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House Pushes Abortion Parental Notification Legislation Again

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Politics and Government

The US House of Representatives Tuesday worked to again push through legislation that would make it a federal crime for an adult to circumvent state parental abortion notification laws by taking a minor across state lines for an abortion.

By a vote of 264-153, the House passed the Child Custody Protection Act had been passed by the US Senate in July, but 2 main Democratic Senators, Harry Reid (D-NV) & Dick Durbin (D-IL), had blocked the movement of the measure to a conference committee, where the House & Senate versions are reconciled prior to the enactment of the legislation.

According to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the law would protect "minors from exploitation from the abortion industry; it promotes family ties & it helps foster respect for state laws."

Family Research Council has supported the legislation, noting that it "will not stop all abortions, but they will allow parents to be involved in what is literally a life-altering decision."

Observers are doubtful that the Congress will reach an acceptable compromise on the bill before the end of the 109th Congress, leaving this session without a single pro-life measure being passed.

For the full story: House Tries Again to Enact Parental Notification Law.


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Most Recent Post: 10/16 07:31AM by CeciliaChance

Fox Movies to Launch Christian Film Endeavor

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Entertainment

The numbers have driven Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to create a new distribution label to manage its growing list of faith-based programming. The huge commercial successes of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, the adaptation of C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe, as well as acclaimed lesser known films such as this fall's currently playing Facing the Giants & last year's The End of the Spear have encouraged this special niche market provider. The new consumer & retail brand will include filmed entertainment with a clear Christian message or based on material by a Christian author. Fox hopes that the line will be recommended by Christian retailers, ministries, churches, & leaders & will become the "go to" source for families interested in enjoying faith-based entertainment.

Foxfaith is a new home entertainment distribution label & marketing engine for theatrical releases & ongoing distribution of films specifically made for & targeted to Christian audiences.

"We're in the business of entertainment, not proselytizing," warned Jeff Yordy, Vice President , Marketing, Foxfaith. Nevertheless, he continued, "We recognized that there was a hugely underserved audience & seized the opportunity to provide them with high-quality entertainment that reflects their values. And, as a result, we've seen explosive growth in this marketplace over the past few years, which only proves to us that we're successfully tapping into our core constituency."

Foxfire promises new productions, both made for theatrical release & television or straight to home sale, as well as a rapidly growing backlist of popular titles.

For the full story: Fox Reaches Out to Christian Market.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

Muslims Rage Against Pope's Quote of Islam by Force

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Cults, Religions, and Faith Traditions

When Pope Benedict XVI quoted an obscure historical source on Islam's penchant for spreading its power, control, & religion by force, he stirred a maelstrom of reaction from the Islamic world. Some demand the Holy Father apologize to all Muslims in the world.

On a papal visit to his native Germany last week, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, in one of his speeches, talked of the need to use reason, & not violence, to engage in religious interaction with people of other faiths. The speech, Three Stages in the Program of De-Hellenization, included a partially quoted Medieval dialog between a Persian Muslim academic & Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, whose rule over the eastern part of what had been the Roman Empire had been virtually destroyed by Muslims during his reign between AD 1391 & 1425. Worldwide, Muslims are incensed at the Pope's quotation from Palaeologus: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, & there you will find things only evil & inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." The Pope's office (the Vatican, or Holy See) has offered the full text of the speech & responded that not only was the Pope quoting someone else, but that the purpose of the citation in its entirety was to advocate peaceful, reasoned dialog among religions rather than violent or violence-inducing responses.

A Closer Look at the Speech. Pope Benedict introduced the quotes by noting that their theme was "on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both." Providing the context for the quote that would subsequently incite contemporary Muslims, he continued, "In the seventh conversation. . . the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that sura 2:256 reads: 'There is no compulsion in religion.' It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under [threat]. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Koran, concerning holy war." Benedict then characterizes the emperor's next statement as "brusque," & quotes it -- with the clear intention of providing the framework for the main thrust of the emperor's speech, as Benedict summarizes it: "The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. 'God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably . . . is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death....'"

The rest of Benedict's speech, including a summary of the work's translator's discussion of the nature of God & His will, is a call to join faith & reason, to reject the false dichotomy between the truncated reason of modernism (limited entirely to the empirical) & the shallow immitation of faith as blind, & to approach our inter-cultural, inter-religious dialogs with reasonable faith, not an oxymoron.

The translator's note is essential to an understanding of Benedict's use of the emperor's dialog. Translator Adel Theodore Khoury noted that the Muslim concept of God so stresses his transcendent & ineffable, unknowable nature, that reason may be meaningless to ascribe to him. Benedict summarizing Khoury's warning: "For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry."

From this framework of contrasts -- the emperor urging reason as obedience to God from whom reason flows, & Islam's view that reason could be apart from God & not coming from God, Benedict then argues that our Western world over the centuries has mistakenly divorced reason from theology & in doing so diminished the value of both reason & faith. End of the Closer Look.

The speech concludes, "'Not to act reasonably (with logos) is contrary to the nature of God,' said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university."

Meanwhile, internationally, Muslim reactions are not to the Pope's plea for reasonable faith & reasonable dialog about faith, but to what they perceive as an unfair accusation of violence in Islam historically. Senior Muslim representatives (there is no central Muslim leadership or authority) have called for the Pope to apologize, have asked their governments to sever ties with the Vatican, urged the expulsion of Vatican representatives from their countries, & even urged the government of Turkey to cancel a papal tour of the country scheduled for November.

For the full story: Muslims Enraged by Pope's Remarks on Spreading Islam by Violence.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

Sarin Murder Leader Loses Last Bid for Life

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Cults, Religions, and Faith Traditions

Ending years of legal appeals & delays, the Japanese Supreme Court has ruled on the last appeal to save the life of Shoko Asahara, who was sentenced to death for his masterminding of various terrorist attacks against civilians, including the murder of 12 people & the injury of dozens in the deadly sarin gas attack in Tokyo, Japan's subway system in 1995. Asahara was the leader of a doomsday religious group called Aum Shinrikyo(Supreme Truth)(AS), which still exists in Japan, although it is carefully monitored by Japanese law enforcement. It was founded by Asahara in 1987 after he returned from a spiritual experience in India & proclaimed to his followers that he had achieved enlightenment. Through a series of intensive yoga exercises, followers were said to be able to control their oxygen intake, heart activity, & brain wave patterns.

Asahara has been convicted of crimes that resulted in 27 deaths & several thousand injuries, many with chronic consequences. According to evidence presented at trial, Asahara was paranoid that authorities were prepared to raid the group's compound & kill him & his followers with sarin gas, so he ordered premptive strikes by his group in crowded areas to warn off authorities. He was sentenced to death in February 2004.

For the full story: Subway Attack Cult Founder Loses Last Appeal.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

My Space for Churches Debutes

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Cults, Religions, and Faith Traditions

Piggy-backing on the phenomenonally popular teen Internet connection Myspace, Cnet.com has launched a public Beta version of a new "community" for churches & organizations called Mychurch.com.

MyChurch.org is a free service to churches and individuals, with monthly subscriptions available to churches desiring more support, features, and bandwidth. MyChurch is cross-compatible with many of the existing social networking sites for example, users can invite all their Myspace friends with one click, and they can import their blog feeds if they maintain a weblog on another platform.

MyChurch.org was founded by a husband and wife engineering team, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Suh, to deliver Web 2.0 to church communities. With an emphasis on clean layouts, authentic community, and smooth usability, MyChurch.org is completely void of advertisements and steers away from these pitfalls that have plagued Myspace.

For the full story: MyChurch.org, a Social Network for Church Communities, Opens to the Public.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

Actor Steve Baldwin Pitches Jesus

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Entertainment

The youngest Baldwin brother, actor Stephen Baldwin (40), is pushing a different role than his more famous brothers, actors Alec, William, & Daniel, the Baldwin Brothers.

Although none of the 4 brothers is as vocally politically & religiously liberal as Alec, Stephen has charted his own way since 9/11, becoming a born-again Christian & devoting his life & career to promoting the gospel in his own unique way.

Stephen's newest book, The Unusual Suspect: My Calling to the New Hardcore Movement of Faith will be released on September 19, & he describes himself as a Spiritual Activist, promoting a national tour mixing extreme sports exhibitions & challenging messages of faith. His 2 DVDs, Livin' It & Livin' It in LA, feature extreme skateboarding & testimonies from celebreties in sports & Hollywood. He is also filming a new reality series for VH1 based on the hard-hitting exhibitions.

"I want it to be something where kids who are believers or non-believers can come to an arena & have an entertainment experience that is just as fun as the other stuff out there, but you're going to get this positive message somewhere in the experience," Baldwin said in an interview.

For the full story: Stephen Baldwin Book Focuses on Religion.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

Democrats Start Christian Web Site

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Politics and Government

Some Christian Democrats (DNC), including supporters of former president Bill Clinton, have launched a new website, FaithfulDemocrats.com, in an effort to compete with Republicans for the votes of conservative Christians in this fall's local & national elections.

The new site comes from David Wilhelm, a venture capitalist & former DNC chairman, & Jesse Lava, who worked for Wilhelm at the DNC. Lava is the site's executive director.

Lava told reporters Tuesday, "The seed was planted after '04 when there was a lot of hand-wringing going on & a lot of people were wondering how on earth Democrats failed to convey a sense of faith & values in that election."

Lava continued, "So the main thing was to help reframe the values debate to be beyond wedge-issue politics, beyond fear & division & more focused on justice & the common good." . . . So our site is explicitly a Christian community. It is explicitly a Democratic community."

While the site is positioned to have an impact in this fall's midterm election, its focus is particularly aimed at the 2008 presidential election.

For the full story: Democrats Launch Christian Web Site.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

Denomination Changes Remarriage after Divorce Stance

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Cults, Religions, and Faith Traditions

The Church of God of Prophecy (COGOP), a charismatic Protestant assmbly of churches headquartered in Cleveland, Tennessee, has voted in its annual General Assembly to change its position on divorce & remarriage. The previous policy said that any remarriage after any divorce was considered adultery. The new position is that church pastors can now determine on a case-by-case basis the reasons for a divorce & whether a divorced person who remarries is in an adulterous relationship.

The COGOP has nearly 1 million members worldwide.

For the full story: Church Changes Stance on Remarriage, No Longer Deemed Adultery.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

Doesn't Want Polygamist Jeffs' Job, Canadian Rival Says

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Cults, Religions, and Faith Traditions

Winston Blackmore(49), a former bishop in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), says he has no plans to assume the leadership postion of William Steed Jeffs(50), the leader who was arrested this week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as one of their Ten Most Wanted for sexual misconduct for his role in arranging polygamous marriages for underage girls in his movement. Blackmore was excommunicated by Jeffs 10 years ago & now runs one of the largest, most prosperous polygamous groups in Canada, Bountiful, in the Creston Valley, British Columbia (BC).

Blackmore is said to have more than 20 wives & more than 100 children. He has not been arrested or convicted in regard to his community activities & leadership. Canada is much less aggressive in pursuing enforcement of family law when it appears that all participants are willing.

Interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Blackmore said he has "absolutely no interest" in resuming his role as leader of the BC branch of Jeffs' movement, which maintains a branch in Bountiful composed of the half of the community that did not join Blackmore when he was excommunicated. "All I'm really interested in doing is continuing to have my family & to enjoy them & to enjoy our lives that we've found that we never had," he continued.

The families in both groups in Bountiful, & many families in Jeffs' communities in Utah & Arizona, are related through intermarriage. The rival groups in Bountiful have no association with each other, even splitting families.

For the full story: Rival Polygamist Won't Lead Church Following Leader's Arrest.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

FBI Most Wanted Polygamist Jeffs Arrested Near Vegas

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Cults, Religions, and Faith Traditions

William Steed Jeffs (50), fugitive head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), was arrested Monday by a Nevada Highway Patrol after he & 2 other people were pulled over on Interstate 15 just north of Las Vegas. The announcement was made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

He was wanted by the FBI on federal charges of sexual misconduct for allegedly arranging marriages between underage girls & older men in his religious movement. Former members have also said he sexually molested many children over the years, including young boys & his own family members. He has been on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list since May, with a $100,000 reward offered.

Jeffs' traveling companions were identified as one of his wives, Naomi Jeffs (32), & one of his brothers, Isacc Steve Jeffs (32). Jeffs is being held in Las Vegas pending a hearing on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He may face extradition to Arizona or Utah.

For information on Fundamentalist (polygamous) Mormon groups we recommend Mormon Fundamentalism.

For the full story: Fugitive Polygamist Cult Leader Caught Near Las Vegas.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26