IN THE NEWS (Winter 2001)

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

Prayer Works!
ABPNews. November 28, 2001

A study reported in the September issue of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine involved 219 women receiving fertility treatment in a South Korean hospital. The women were classified into two statistically similar groups. One was prayed for by Christian intercessors, and one was not, according to a report in ABP, Associated Baptist Press. The women ranged in age from 26 to 46, and were treated between December 1998 and March 1999 at Cha General Hospital in Seoul.

The two groups were divided and randomized by an independent set of researchers not affiliated with the rest of the study. One group served as the control group and they were not prayed for. The other group became the object of regular intercessory prayer, although they did not know they were being prayed for. All patients were treated with the same medical protocol.

Results of the fertility treatments were not reported to those conducting the prayer study until after pregnancy results were available for the entire test group. In the final analysis, the group of women who received the prayer support had a 50 percent pregnancy rate, compared to 26 percent in the control group.

Further, after adjusting for three spontaneous losses in each group, the group receiving prayer ended the study with more than double the rate of term deliveries as seen in the control group. Forty-six percent of women in the prayed-for group delivered at term, compared to 22 percent of women in the group not receiving prayer.

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son... (Genesis 30:22-23a)

Religion as Usual Again
New York Times. November 26, 2001

Church attendance across America was back to normal this weekend, following the Sept. 11-generated surge. "Americans, who after the attacks turned to religion in an outpouring that some religious leaders hailed as a spiritual 'great awakening,' have now mostly returned to their former habit," said the Times report.

"Some religious leaders predicted that the phenomenon would be short-lived, but many, like the evangelist Franklin Graham, the Rev. Billy Graham's son, hailed it as an enduring turn toward God," according to the New York Times.

"Evidence" from churches and synagogues, combined with several polls, now indicates that for most people, "the spiritual storm has passed," except perhaps in New York, where the pain of the attack is most intense, said the paper.

For the last three decades, the percentage of Americans who told the Gallup Poll that they had attended church or synagogue in the previous week has hovered between 39 and 43. In May 2001, the figure was 41 percent. In the 10 days after Sept. 11, it climbed to 47 percent - a noticeable rise, but no more than what is usually seen during the Christmas or Easter seasons. By early November, attendance had dropped back to 42 percent.

Religion will never satisfy. A relationship with Jesus Christ will change your life. Opportunities afforded by events, such as September 11, need to be used as a time to reach out with God's life giving message. If religion (as so often presented) is just a crutch of the weak and hurting, it should not surprise us that it is only temporary based on circumstances. When people see their need of repentance and to commit their lives to the Lord (in the good and the bad times), we will see (much needed) long lasting change.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5-6)

No Public Christianity and The Kingston Whig-Standard. November 22&25, 2001

The editor of the Calgary Sun (Canada) remarked in a column recently, that in what is being described as an "unprecedented move, the Canadian military is directing its chaplains to avoid all specific references to Christianity during public services. The policy change, which came down from the chaplain general in Ottawa on July 24, has left Canadian Forces' chaplains unable to use such phrases like 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit,' the name of Christ, and even the Lord's Prayer.

"The reason given, of course, is to be sensitive to other minority religions. ... The maddening thing here is, it's not the minorities who are demanding this. ... It is - or at least is becoming - the Canadian way," Licia Corbella wrote.

"In countries where Christians are in the minority and where their very lives are at risk if they proclaim their faith - like in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan - they are often bolder than we, the majority, are in our own country," Corbella added.

How on earth can a Christian chaplain represent a Muslim cleric?" asked Art Hanger, Canadian Alliance Member of Parliament. "Unless they're going to pray to a generic god, how can they represent other faiths? I don't agree with this new policy at all ... (I would say) it represents a new low in political correctness," added Hanger recently, as reported in The Kingston Whig-Standard (Canada).

The military office of the chaplain general issued a new policy on public prayer last summer, leaving its padres in the unique position of being asked not to refer to certain fundamental aspects of their faith, such as the Lord's Prayer or traditional Christian phrases like "Father, Son and the Holy Spirit." Hanger remarked that the recent policy change has more to do with politics than the makeup of today's Canadian military. "The number of soldiers of other faiths is small," he said.

Christianity is quickly becoming the only religion that is politically correct to discriminate against. Because of the exclusive claims of Jesus, as being the "Only Way (John 14:6)," this should come as no surprise. True Christianity, while respecting the right of any individual to worship any false god of their choice, cannot waterdown the God given message that salvation in Jesus is the only true religion.

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)

'God Bless America' Gone, November 19, 2001

The "God Bless America" sign on the Eastwood, Texas, High School marquee was removed after a senior student suggested that it was offensive to some. On Nov. 13, Assistant Principal Mike Olivas said that the school decided to change the sign to make sure everyone at Eastwood "has a voice in school activities." The sign now reads, "United We Stand," according to Borderland news, and the El Paso Times. "I personally had no problems with 'God Bless America,'" Olivas said. "The senior who wrote the letter is a very intelligent, articulate student who felt that some students were offended by the ... message and suggested that we be more inclusive."

The issue was brought to national attention by a group of Del Valley High School TV journalism students who make up the CNN Student Bureau in El Paso. They "have raised a legitimate issue," said Dr. Melvin Straus, UTEP political science professor emeritus, and of the El Paso chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

While it has been politically correct to quote "God Bless America" since September 11, groups like the ACLU merely tolerated it for a brief time (knowing public opinion would be against them). Their agenda of "freedom from religion" has returned incrementally beginning a few weeks later. For everyone who truly calls on God to bless America, we need to start speaking out again (as did the founding fathers) for freedom of religion.

Jedi Makes List of Religions
BBC, October 15, 2001

"It's official: 'Jedi Knight' [as in the Star Wars movies] is on the list of religions for the 2001 UK census," according to BBC News, UK. An e-mail campaign to get people to write the entry on their census forms has succeeded, in that the term is being included on the list of religions alongside Church of England, Roman Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu. Sufficient numbers of people wrote the entry in for it to be allocated its own code for the census processing team to use.

Other religions which are included on the list, alongside the better known ones, are the Church of Free Love, Wicca, Divine Lightmission, Coleraine Christian Centre, Druidism, Satanism, Free Thinker and Celtic Pagan.

Mormon Attempts at Mainstreaming
Religion Today & Newsweek, September 10, 2001

The Mormon Church is unhappy about an article in Newsweek that says the church is trying to appear more Christian, reports Agape Press. In this week's edition, Newsweek examines differences between Mormon theology and traditional Christian doctrines about God and man.

"The basic Mormon documents do seem strange to the ears of traditional Christians," says Kenneth Woodward, Newsweek's religion editor. "For example, God is a finite being - He's married. And the 'Heavenly Mother,' as they call her, produces spirit children in the 'pre-existence' - that's you and me - so that we take bodies when we're born into this world."

But, the article says that Mormons also are increasingly emphasizing Jesus and de-emphasizing their founder, Joseph Smith. "In their prayers and in many other ways, they're looking and sounding very much like evangelical Christians," Woodward says. "For example, when those Mormon missionaries come knocking at your door, in the old days they would start with a story about Joseph Smith and all of that. Now they start with Jesus."

In fact, Woodward says that today it is difficult to find more than one image of Smith in the church's new conference center in Salt Lake City. "Instead, the walls are lined with huge murals depicting scenes from the life of Jesus."

In a letter to Newsweek editors, church spokesman Michael Otterson rejected the idea that Mormons are trying to change their image and appear more mainstream.

Wolves in sheep's clothing. The best lies always contain a lot of the truth or, at the least, wear a coat of truth to cover up the core. The church needs to be teaching people what we believe and how to stand firm upon it. With so many churches embracing a "they worship Jesus, so they can't be that bad" philiosphy — which calls for unity at all cost — they are feeding people to the wolves. Let's speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and call this what it is, a lie... another gospel... another Jesus.

For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:4)

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

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. All Scriptures are NIV unless otherwise designated.