IN THE NEWS (Summer 2001)

Any news service graphics are links to their sites, some pictures too.

Warning Sticker for Harry Potter Books?
Religion Today. March 27, 2001

Not everyone is under the spell of that phenomenon, "Harry Potter." The Rev. Robert Frisken, the head of Christian Community Schools Ltd. and heading a coalition of nearly 100 Christian schools in Australia, is about to write parents, cautioning them about the books.

He does not want the stories about the trainee wizard banned, but suggests the books should carry warning stickers before they are placed in school libraries. "The ordinary person is typified as being bad because they have no (magic) powers, and heroes are the people who are using the occult. Good finds itself in the occult, which is an inversion of morality for many Christian people."

The four Harry Potter books have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and remain near the top of international bestseller lists three years after the first one appeared. But the books have become a controversial addition to classrooms in America - figures show they were the most challenged books of 1999. Efforts to restrict their use, or remove them from classrooms and school libraries were reported in 19 states.

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20)." The inverted morality of these popular books both reflect and fuel our culture's abandonment of Christian norms. Like all popular culture, they have the ability to influence -- these especially exert that influence on young children.

Teen Against Violent Video Games
Religion Today. March 12, 2001

A 13-year-old United Methodist girl from North Bend, Ore., is getting national attention for her "Cool-No-Violence project," to prevent children from being exposed to violent video games.

Danielle Shimotakahara says, "I never thought it would go this far - I was only trying to educate and convince the businesses around here to move their violent games to another area of their business, away from the little kids, or remove them entirely."

She is featured in the March Reader's Digest as an "everyday hero" and is in American Girl magazine's April edition, as well as on her local TV newscasts and on Nickelodeon.

The project led to her appearance before a U.S. Senate committee, and giving presentations to civic and community groups, schools and churches. On Feb. 19, she argued before a Senate committee in favor of state Senate Bill 59. The bill would require public video game owners "to ensure that children younger than 18 do not play games depicting people being shot, or blood gore, mutilation or the dismemberment of human bodies."

"I'm surprised at the number of people who never knew these types of machines were out there ..." she remarked. "My pastor, Pam Meese, told me that games are supposed to prepare kids for real life situations," she said. "So what does a game that rips bodies to pieces and explodes body parts and splatters blood on the screen teach kids to prepare for in real life?"

It's great to see a teen opposed to all this gruesome "entertainment." Her pastor's comment that this stuff is supposed to be preparing kids for real life situations is a common cop-out, closely related to Hollywood's often stated claim that they are merely reflecting reality. Sadly, they are working to create reality. As one of a number of influences, many are getting the message. Our reality now includes desensitized children, teens, and adults slaughtering people. Are these the "real life" situations we want? (See Philippians 4:8)

Sex on TV
ABPNews. Feb 19, 2001

"Sex on TV: Content and Context" was the second biennial study conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, an independent national health-care philanthropy organization based in Menlo Park, Calif.

The study revealed that the number of programs containing sexual content rose from 56 percent of all shows in the 1997-98 season, to 68 percent in the 1999-2000 season. At least one show in four (27 percent) included sexual behavior, with the remainder featuring conversation about sex.

Television's preoccupation with sex offers a twisted view of reality, says Bill Tillman, T. B. Maston professor of Christian ethics at the Logsdon School of Theology in Abilene, TX. "Sexuality is a major part of life; still, we are more than sexual beings. Thus, TV media content proclaims life in an out-of-balance kind of way;" and (he has noticed) that TV programs he had previously enjoyed have now become more and more bothersome to his sensibilities.

Sex is particularly common in primetime network programs - in 1997-98, 67 percent included sexual content, and in 1999-2000, 75 percent.

These results are not surprising, because they just confirm the truism that "sex sells," said Joe Haag, special moral-concerns associate with the Christian Life Commission at the Baptist General Convention of Texas. While the findings are disturbing, Haag emphasized that Christians can compliment and support the TV programs and movies which rise above sexploitation to give a more truthful account of life.

"We can express our views to advertisers and producers ... Parents can monitor and influence their children's TV viewing, or even use the bad programming as 'teaching moments' for children," he said.

Television is perhaps the most democratic of mediums. Hollywood gives us what we watch. The more people watching, the more (or higher priced) ads sold. To reverse the trend now being seen in shows filled with questionable content, it will take more than people talking about it... we need to stop watching. If enough people stop watching the advertisers will pull out, effectively removing that show from our entertainment line-up. It's a sad indictment on Christianity when (regardless of our words) surveys have consistently shown that professing Christians are still watching all the same things the world is.

Euthanasia Law
Reuters. April 10, 2001

The Dutch Senate on Tuesday voted to legalize euthanasia even as thousands of people demonstrated against making the Netherlands the only country in the world to permit mercy killing. The vote, recognizing a practice that has already been tolerated in the Netherlands for over two decades, was seen as a formality after the lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved the bill last November.

Near the Senate one balaclava-clad man bore a placard saying: "Euthanasia is still murder." "We believe in the Lord, and he is the only one who can decide on taking life," said 18-year-old Henriett Schutta... Many young people took part in the protest packing a central Hague square. Some held up pictures of Jesus, others had their faces painted with crosses, but most were soberly dressed.

"It is dangerous and unworthy for a civilized society if doctors are allowed to kill. It could put people under pressure to choose death....," one opposing politician said.

Once the law comes into effect, the Netherlands will be the only country to make mercy killing legal. The U.S. state of Oregon allows physician-assisted suicide. Australia's Northern Territory legalized medically assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in 1996, although that law was later repealed. Belgium has agreed on a draft euthanasia law, subject to approval by parliament, to legalize the practice. Recent polls have shown 86 percent of the Dutch population supports the move.

The move has sparked fears that legalizing the practice in the Netherlands could lead to "death tourism" -- people traveling to the Netherlands for help in ending their lives. Reports that an Australian doctor planned to buy a Dutch-registered ship and perform euthanasia just outside Australian territorial waters were being investigated by legal experts, Jonquiere said.

Latest figures from the DVES show there were 3,600 deaths from euthanasia or assisted suicide in 1995. Data for 1999 are due out soon and are expected to show a total of around 4,000.

Mankind has been playing a word game with God's prohibition on murder for years. Years ago, the Nazi's declared an entire class of people to be sub(or non)-human, thus giving them legal reason (or tolerance) for extermination. What is widely decried as an atrocity (and justly so) from that era, has repeated itself in recent history. First, pre-born children have been declared to not be human beings, thus paving the way for their legal extermination (-- now quaintly called "terminating a pregnancy"). Financial hardship and inconvenience are two of the most cited reasons for wanting to abort a child. Most recently, people whose age or physical infirmities have caused them to not have a "good quality of life," have become the next victims. It's not surprising that many of those choosing to die at the hands of their "doctor" have reported feeling direct or indirect pressure from their family -- not wanting to be "a burden." What price has human life? How soon before it becomes legally necessary to die due to old age or physical infirmity? (See Genesis 1:26, Exodus 20:13, Genesis 9:5-6)

Edited by Brent MacDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries. All editorial comment is in italics. (c) 2001. This electronic version is formatted different than the original. Feel free to duplicate as long as the sources are cited.