Wednesday, February 09 2005 @ 04:55 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
George Felos, attorney for Michael Schiavo, the husband of severely brain-damaged patient Terri Schiavo, has said that recent legal decisions have paved the way for the husband to order removal of Terri's feeding tube, which wil starve her to death within a couple of weeks, which could take place as early as February 22. But Barbara Weller, an attorney for Terri's parents, Bob & Mary Schindler, says that pending legal issues will likely keep it from happening that soon.
Terri Schiavo, now 41, has been incapacitated since she suffered brain damage 15 years ago. Since then her husband and her parents have been battling about her life. Her husband, who will inherit what is left of her estate and who has been cohabiting with another woman with whom he has children, has been insisting that Terri has no chance of "meaningful life" or rehabilitation and would not want to be kept alive under these conditions. Her parents have argued that her life is inherently meaningful, that she is not as disabled as her husband declares, that she could greatly improve her quality of life with intensive therapy, and that she would want to keep living regardless. Lengthy legal battles have ensued and her feeding tube as been removed in the past, only to be replaced through emergency legislation passed by the Florida legislature and Gov. Jeb Bush. That legislation has since been overturned and other legal setbacks have removed most obstacles to Michael Schiavo's plan.
The husband's attorney has said that February 22 is the date expected for the decision of the 2nd District Court of Appeal to be issued as a mandate empowering the husband to remove the feeding tube if he so wishes. At that time, the stay on the tube removal instituted by state Circuit Judge George W. Greer will expire. Felos said, "Assuming the mandate does issue on February 22, then the last stay in place automatically ends and Mr. Schavio is authorized the direct the removal of the artificial life support."
The parents' attorney has said that other legal issues remain that would preclude such an action. She says other issues before Judge Greer may impel him to issue a new stay to delay the tube's removal. Weller observed, "I think [a Feb. 22 removal] is unlikely, but you can't make any predictions in this case. There are still way too many legal issues outstanding to be considered."
Some obervers say that Terri's best hope for continued life is a motion in which the parents' attorneys claim the 2000 order originally issued by Greer allowing Michael Schiavo to stop the feedings is illegal because Terri has never been represented by her own attorney.
Friday, February 04 2005 @ 11:36 AM EST Contributed by: AIA
The Rev. Abraham Kennard spent just under 2 years selling his dream of creating spiritual Christian resorts with fellow black pastors and congregations, and lived luxuriously the entire time, eventually bringing in more than $9 million but producing no resorts and no promised paybacks for the church investors. His trial on 132 counts from money laundering to tax evasion ended Thursday and the verdict will be decided by the jury.
In a pyramid-like scheme, according to prosecutors, Kennard would network with the tightly knit black pastoral community nationwide, convincing pastors to talk their congregations and fellow pastors into investing a minimum of $3,000 in the project. Kennard would travel the country in private jets, using limousines and the highest class accommodations as he visited potential investors and showed them his promotional video. According to prosecutors, he and his assistants (including his attorney and various family members) used all the money themselves, except for small portions they gave back to investors as "profit" from the allegedly non-existent ventures.
Kennard defended himself at trial, explaining to the jury, "It's not a law against riding in a Cadillac if you don't want to ride in a Volkswagen." Prosecutor David McClernan concluded for the jury, "I know you can see clearly it was a scheme, all right. And for some 1,600 churches, it was a nightmare." Added allegedly bilked investor the Rev. James Cane of Victory Worship Center in Alabama, "It wasn't about ignorance. It was about trust."
Kennard had promised investors that they would get back more than 100 times over what they had invested -- up to $500,000. What they got, say prosecutors, was duped.
Friday, January 28 2005 @ 06:30 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
A Branson, Missouri developer and his wife plan to turn 590 acres of land 30 miles from where televangelist Jim Bakker tapes his television show and nearby to Ble Eye, where a theme park called Camelot briefly operated. Jerry & Dee Crawford say the planned community, Morningside at Blue Eye, will offer affordable housing and Bible study-friendly amenities. Dee Crawford said, "We've never gone into a project without edifying the Lord. Our heart's desire is to make something that's accessible for the people who need it." The Crawfords say that faith will not be a prerequisite for the people who buy and reside in the community.
Crawford said the first phase of the development will include 30 condominiums and a climate-controlled atrium with shops, food court, and a television studio for Bakker. This portion of the development will cost about $6.5 million of the Crawfords' funds. Other sections will include an upscale gated community, water features, nature trails, a residential care facility, and an RV park.
Bakker moved his television show production to Branson at the urging of the Crawfords, who have been long-time Bakker supporters and fans. Bakker has no financial stake in the planned community.
Friday, January 28 2005 @ 05:01 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
Prompted by the international Anglican church's Lambeth Commission report, the Episcopal Church of the USA (ECUSA) recently released an apology of sorts for injuring international Anglican unity by consecrating the denomination's first openly active gay biship, V. Gene Robinson, in November 2003. The apology doesn't go far enough, say bishops from international Anglican communions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
The International Anglican Communion has been facing a complete splintering of its authority and unity since the consecration, especially from those parts of the church in devloping countries, which account for the largest number of worshiping Anglicans worldwide.
Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola noted that the apology was for lack of consideration of other churches' objections, but did not constitute repentnece for an act he said was contrary to their faith. Added Archbishop Bernard Malang of Malawi, "That gives us a very big question mark whether we are together or not."
The comments came during a weeklong meeting in Niarobi, Kenya last week of leading Anglican bishops from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. There are approximately 77 million Anglicans worldwide in the 38 Anglican and Episcopal associations. More than half of the Anglicans are in Africa, with fully 17.5 million in Nigeria alone.
Wednesday, January 19 2005 @ 01:27 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
In a noticeable break with international Roman Catholic leadership, Spain's Catholic bishops have endorsed the limited use of condoms and sexual restraint as the best methods to fight HIV/AIDS in Spain and other countries. The Catholic Church's official stance on birth control and sex is that sex should be reserved for male/female marriage partners in a marriage situation and with the necessary allowance for procreation. Consequently, birth control methods that interfere with reproduction are disallowed. Many lay Catholics violate the church's princple, and a significant number of Catholic bishops, especially in the United States, think the Church's position should change.
Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, speaking for the Catholic bishops of Spain, said that, while the church in Spain supported the traditional view of marriage, sex in marriage, and procreation, it also realized that HIV/AIDS and its epidemic status necessitated addressing the problem with the best scientific advances. Those include, he added, the use of condoms and refraining from dangerous sexual practices.
Spain's socialist government is strongly in favor of condom use and has no position advocating the restriction of sex to marriage.
Thursday, December 30 2004 @ 10:55 AM EST Contributed by: AIA
After nearly 2 years of investigation and rumor, the Israeli government [in conjunction with its Antiquities Authority (IAA)] Wednesday filed criminal charges against Oded Golan, the major Israeli antiquties collector and dealer, and at least 3 other men, Robert Deutsch, Shlomo Cohen, and Faiz al-Amaleh, charging them with operating a forgery ring for profit. Golan was the owner of the ancient burial ossuary whose inscription led observers to believe it could have belonged to James, the brother of Jesus. According to the IAA, the men bought genuinely ancient but insiginificant artifacts and then engraved them and performed other operations on them to give them the appearance of unique significance. Golan and the others have steadfastly affirmed their innocence. In a statement released after these charges were filed, Golan said, "There is not one grain of truth in the fantastic allegations related to me."
In addition to the James ossuary the IAA has identified as forgeries a tablet known as the Joash stone referring to the First Temple (Solomon's) in Jerusalem and also a small ivory pomegranate.
Tuesday, December 28 2004 @ 08:12 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
In a joint statement from the 25 regional executives of the 1.5 million member American Baptist Church, leaders announced that the continuing controversy among members and clergy over homosexual issues threatens to split the denomination.
The denomination this month released a pastoral statement to "preserve unity," announcing that to do so, the leaders had personally agreed to "voluntarily refrain from" appointing sexually active gays and lesbians to national or regional positions of leadership. They also agreed to refrain both from blessing same-sex "marriage ceremonies," and to shun "homophobic behavior."
The CLS national society chose to sue because it says the anti-discrimination policy must make a Constitutional exception for religious belief. CLS members must sign a statement of faith similar to the Apostles' Creed. The CLS lawsuit says that the ASU chapter "interprets its statement of faith to require that officers adhere to orthodox Christian beliefs, including the Bible's prohibition of sexual contact between persons of the same sex." The suit continues, "A person who engages in homosexual conduct or adheres to the viewpoint that homosexual conduct is not sinful would not be permitted to become a member or serve as an officer."
ASU staff attorney Nancy Tribbensee has said the school is planning to "aggressively" defend its non-discrimination policy and is drafting its response to the lawsuit. In other judicial decisions in the US, exemptions on the basis of Constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion have been established, providing for religious exceptions to the non-discrimination policies.
Tuesday, December 28 2004 @ 07:22 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
In response to a pastoral defrocking conducted against her by the United Methodist Church last month, the former Rev. Elizabeth Irene Stroud has decided to appeal the 12-1 conviction by a panel of fellow ministers.
The United Methodist Church explicitly forbids practicing lesbians or homosexuals to serve as ministers. According to the verdict, Stroud violated that prohibition when she announced in a recent Sunday morning sermon that she was a practicing lesbian. She could have remained as a minister if she had abstained from lesbian relations, and she remains as a lay Methodist member despite her active lesbian status.
Stroud bases her appeal on 2 issues. First, she is appealing the presiding bishop's exclusion from her jury of any minister who could not in good conscience uphold the church's Book of Discipline, which bars practicing homosexual ministers. Second, she maintains that the prohibition contradicts a United Methodist constitution statement that "calls us as a church to stand against every form of discrimination," and to "treat all people as equally loved by God."
Stroud's appeal will be heard by a panel of the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the 8.5 million member denomination and could eventually reach the national Judicial Council.
Tuesday, December 28 2004 @ 06:53 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
A Canadian University of Lethbridge sociologist says research shows that church attendance, especially among young people, is up, in some cases by as much as 4-5% since the late 1990s. Sociologist Reginald Bibby, a well-known Canadian pollster on religion, conducted a 2003 survey in which he found that 26% of Canadians said they attended religious services about once a week, up 5% from a similar 2000 poll. Another 50% said they were open to attending, and just needed a good reason to do so. The Catholic archdiocese of Toronto has conducted surveys showing that 43-48% of those who self-identify as Catholic are going to church each week, a substantial increase over previous rates.
The 26% attendance rate for church means that church going is higher than the numbers for any other group activity in the country, including watching the Super Bowl.
Bibby attributes the rise to a number of factors, including that baby boomers, who began the long slide in church attendance in Canada, now have adult children who are rediscovering the church for themselves in distinction from their parents. Other factors include the more participatory services of many churches, updating of music, involvement of multi-media and entertainment models of worship, and such practical considerations as day care and central locations. Many young people told Bibby they were going to church in order to establish values and a safe learning, growing, and friendship environment for their young children and to bring families closer together.
As baby boomers accounted for larger portions of the active adult participation, Canadians professing "no religion" represented a larger portion, too. Bibby says the numbers prove, however, that the mostly young people who profess no religion generally gravitate to religion within 10 years or so. Consequently, as the large baby boomer section aged, church attendance even among them increased, as did that of their own children.
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