The United Methodist Church (UMC), Presbyterian Church USA
(PCUSA) and Episcopal Church continue to wrestle over whether
ministers should bless same-sex unions and whether
homosexual men or women should be allowed to serve in the
In the UMC, for example, Rev. Karen Dammann, a lesbian UMC
minister who is a part of the Pacific Northwest Conference,
will have her situation adjudicated by the denominations
supreme court, after two earlier church panels dropped charges
Two years ago, Dammann told Seattle-area Bishop Elias Galvan
that she was living in a partnered, covenanted, homosexual
relationship. According to United Methodist News Service,
Galvan responded by filing ecclesiastical charges against
her, claiming that she was engaging in practices declared
by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian
teachings. The UMCs Book of Discipline prohibits
the ordination of practicing homosexuals.
However, successive panels from the Pacific Northwest
Annual (regional) Conference Committee and the Western Jurisdiction
Committee both dropped charges against Dammann. Even
though the decisions came on split committee votes, conservatives
The UMCs Judicial Council will hear the case in late
Meanwhile, in March the PCUSA Judicial Commission ruled that
a homosexual sexual orientation alone is insufficient
to make a person ineligible for ordination.
The case arose after Katie Morrison, a self-avowed lesbian,
was ordained in September 2001. According to the Presbyterian
News Service, seven ministers claimed that when Morrison admitted
she was a homosexual, it should have triggered a subsequent
investigation, since the practice of homosexuality is considered
a sin according to PCUSA guidelines.
The Judicial Commission, however, ruled that the PCUSA constitution
only prohibits sinful practices, and that unless a person
self-acknowledge[s] a practice that the confessions
call sin, no further investigation is required unless
the governing body has direct and specific knowledge
that sexual sin has been committed.
The commissioners wrote in their decision that, because all
people fall short of the glory of God, sexual orientation
alone would be no more sufficient or reasonable grounds for
further questioning than would be singleness, obesity or any
In another case, a PCUSA minister, who married
same-sex couples and is now awaiting an ecclesiastical trial,
said he hoped his defiance would bring about change
and greater acceptance.
Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken of Cincinnati admitted that he violated
the constitution of the PCUSA, but said he believed he was
right and the church is wrong. The denominations
highest court has ruled that ministers may bless
homosexual couples relationships but cannot marry
Presbyterians pressuring their denomination to enforce its
constitution on the issue of homosexuality have filed charges
in about 20 cases around the country.
On a similar note, an Episcopal Church report stated that
its denomination should not try to set a policy on ceremonies
to bless homosexual couples because Episcopalians are
nowhere near consensus on the issue.
So-called blessing of homosexual unions is expected
to be the hottest issue at the churchs convention this
summer in Minneapolis. At the 2000 church convention, clergy
and lay delegates narrowly defeated approval of same-sex blessings.
UMNS, 1/31/03, 3/3/03; Presbyterian News Service, 3/5/03;
AgapePress, 3/24/03, 3/27/03
works to support Iraqi children and families
With a war raging in Iraq and a nation to reconstruct
after its finally over, AFA is partnering with Food
for the Hungry to raise money to help the displaced people
of Iraq rebuild their lives and let them know that Christians
in America care for them.
Food for the Hungry was one of the organizations called to
the nations capital for a meeting with government leaders
to discuss how the basic needs of the Iraqi civilians will
be met with the help of caring Christians.
America has been known throughout history as a nation
of compassion. It is our duty as Americans to give support
to those who are breathing freedoms air for the first
time, said Don Wildmon, chairman of AFA and American
Family Radio (AFR).
Food for the Hungry is rushing $1.1 million in medical
supplies, equipment, blankets and food to hospitals in Jordan
as officials there prepare for the anticipated influx of people
across their borders from Iraq, said Wildmon. We
are asking AFA supporters and AFR listeners to give to the
Currently there are thousands of people from Egypt,
India, Sudan, Sri Lanka and other countries working and living
inside Iraq, said Ben Homan, president of Food for the
Hungry. Half of the anticipated 120,000 people crossing
into Jordan will be from another country trying to find their
way home; well be there to help.
On March 28, AFR had a special day of programming to help
raise money for the Iraq project, including in-studio interviews
with Food for the Hungry spokesman Matt Panos, as well as
with those already helping Iraqi refugees and with humanitarian
efforts in Afghanistan. More than $59,000 was pledged in the
Tax-deductible donations can be made to Food for the Hungry
by calling toll-free, 1-800-2-HUNGER, or by visiting the ministrys
web site (www.fh.org).
asks Congress to investigate FCC
Sickened by the deepening depravity of network television,
AFA has asked congressional House and Senate committees that
oversee the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to begin
a thorough and in-depth investigation of the department for
failure to properly protect the viewing public from
indecent broadcasts on network television.
In March, AFA chairman Don Wildmon sent letters to Rep. Billy
Tauzin (R-LA), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and 53 other lawmakers.
It is apparent that the FCC has failed to enforce broadcast
indecency laws, as evidenced by the fact they have not fined
a single television station in at least 25 years! Wildmon
wrote. All the while, network television continues to
grow bolder in its broadcasts of indecent programming.
Wildmon cited a February 25 broadcast of ABCs NYPD Blue
as a prime example. In one scene, a six-year-old boy comes
face-to-face with his fathers live-in sex partner. The
woman is totally nude, covering her breasts and pubic area
with her arms and hands.
Wildmon said a shake-up of FCC commissioners may be needed
in order for the plight of the American family to be recognized.
People are tired of television filth, plain and simple,
said Wildmon. Because the airwaves belong to the public,
and not the networks, the peoples outcry for common
decency should not be ignored.
High Court okays
state sex offender postings
States can continue to post information on the whereabouts
of convicted sex offenders, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.
In a 6-3 ruling, justices rejected arguments by two Alaska
sex offenders who said they were being punished a second time
for their offenses after already having served time for their
crimes. They were sentenced before Alaskas registration
law was enacted.
Such registrations are part of what are known as Megans
laws. The laws are named for seven-year-old Megan Kanka, a
New Jersey girl kidnapped, raped and killed in 1994 by a convicted
sex criminal who lived in her neighborhood.
In writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said
the law allowing states to post addresses, photos and crime
details of convicted sex offenders is not punitive.
Our system does not treat dissemination of truthful
information in furtherance of a legitimate governmental objection
as punishment, Kennedy wrote. The purpose and
the principal effect of notification are to inform the public
for its own safety.
Dissenting justices included Ruth Bader Ginsberg, John Paul
Stevens and Stephen Breyer. They argued such registries will
submit past offenders who pose no threat of recidivism, to
long-term monitoring and inescapable humiliation.
About three dozen states currently have such registries online.
The Associated Press, 3/5/03
who watch violence on TV often violent as adults
Children who watch violent television programs exhibit more
aggressive behavior even 15 years later, according to a study
by psychologists at the University of Michigan. The effect
appeared in both sexes regardless of how aggressive a person
was as a child.
Its one of the few TV violence studies to follow children
into adulthood. The study linked violent TV viewing at ages
6 to 9 to such outcomes as spousal abuse and criminal convictions
in a persons early 20s. Experts said the results were
not surprising, but the results were significant because the
study used a range of measures.
Psychologist L. Rowell Huesmann, one of the researchers, said
televised violence suggests to young children that aggression
is appropriate in some situations, especially when charismatic
heroes are shown responding with violence. He also said such
exposure erodes a natural aversion to violence. He recommended
parents restrict viewing of violent TV and movies by toddlers
through preteens as much as possible.
The study involved 329 adults who were initially surveyed
as children in the late 1970s. To check on adult aggressive
behavior, researchers interviewed the surveyed people and
their spouses and friends, and also checked criminal records.
Shows the participants watched were popular at the time, and
included programs such as Starksy and Hutch, The Six Million
Dollar Man and Roadrunner cartoons. These programs were deemed
ABC News, 3/10/03; American Psychological Association, 3/9/03
Religious leaders ask GM to exit porn business
A group of religious leaders has asked General Motors to get
out of the business of pornography.
The Religious Alliance Against Pornography was scheduled to
meet with two top-level executives from GM in early March
to discuss the automakers distribution of pornography
through DirecTV, the satellite company it owns. DirecTV has
more than 10 million subscribers and carries highly profitable
adult channels, making GM one of the nations biggest
distributors of pornography.
Were saying to them, You can either have
your good name or you can distribute pornography, but you
cannot do both, said Dr. Jerry Kirk, who helped
found the Alliance.
Kirk also said some of the programming distributed by GM could
be classified as illegal obscenity, which is prosecutable.
Weve had some of the top lawyers in the country
evaluate it in depth, and they have written a brief outlining
why they believe its prosecutable, he said.
The Alliance is sponsoring a petition drive addressed to President
Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft, calling for the government
to vigorously enforce the nations obscenity laws. The
American Family Association has also sent petitions to the
Attorney Generals office demanding action. The Alliances
petition can be found on the Internet at www.nationalcoalition.org/ashcroftpetition.phtml.
Family News in Focus, 3/5/03
takes stand against child porn
Credit card company Visa has made it publicly known it wants
nothing to do with child pornography and images of other sexually
deviant behavior. Its message is backed up by action.
During the last year, Visa has set up a system to identify
Web sites that use Visa to sell illegal pornography. When
a site or company is identified, the company is reporting
those sites to global police forces responsible for enforcing
child porn laws.
Visa is also requiring the 7,000 U.S. financial institutions
that are members of the Visa association to register high-risk
merchants who process adult content and use the Visa
card. If they fail to do so, they run the risk of losing their
relationship with Visa.
Visa searched more than one million Web pages a day for the
past year, and estimates that 80% of the 400 Web sites it
has identified as child porn have either been shut down by
law enforcement or have had their Visa privileges terminated.
It also reports that pedophiles in chat rooms are complaining
it is becoming increasingly difficult to find Web sites oriented
This is a powerful new tool to assist law enforcement
in these crimes to eliminate a resource for individuals to
use, download and purchase pornography, said Reuben
Rodriguez, director of the Exploited Child Unit at the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
In addition to child pornography, Visa has said it also does
not want its brand to be used to purchase Internet photos
and videos involving rape and bestiality.
Christian Science Monitor, 2/24/03
Marriott Hotel turns off adult movies
Another Cincinnati-area hotel has nixed adult fare from its
in-room TV offerings. This brings to four the total number
of hotels in the region to get out of the pornography business.
Marriott North in West Chester Township becomes the second
hotel in the chain to drop adult movies. The move came after
officials in the Butler County [Ohio] Prosecutors Office
warned hotel officials some of the movies could potentially
lead to hotel owners facing obscenity charges.
In July 2002, Cincinnati Marriott Northeast in Deerfield Township,
Warren County, stopped showing adult movies in its rooms.
Soon after, Travelodge and Comfort Suites in Campbell County
The hotels dropped the offerings after supporters of Citizens
for Community Values checked into rooms at the hotels, videotaped
some of the adult movies offered at each one, and forwarded
the tapes to county prosecutors offices for review.
The Cincinnati Enquirer, 3/5/03
court cases find in favor of life
The pro-life cause received a boost recently when judges in
three important court cases ruled in favor of life.
First, in a stunning victory for pro-life activists, the U.S.
Supreme Court overturned a 1986 jurys verdict that found
protesters in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act (RICO). In an 8-1 decision, the judges declared
that the lower courts had interpreted RICO too broadly
that although pro-life activists may have disrupted service
at abortion clinics, they did not obtain clinic property,
a requirement for extortion.
According to USA Today, several other activist organizations
cheered the ruling, including People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals (PETA) and the National Association of Criminal
Defense Lawyers. Craig Bradley, lawyer for PETA said, the
new ruling doesnt mean [that activists] will be
able to run roughshod, but that a very expansive view of RICO
is now gone.
A second Supreme Court decision made it possible for the state
of Indiana to finally begin fully enforcing a law originally
passed in 1995 that requires individual counseling and an
18-hour waiting period for a woman considering abortion. The
law had been challenged by seven abortion clinics and a doctor.
As a result, the requirement for individual counseling had
not taken effect.
Mike Fichter, executive director of Indiana Right to Life,
says, For the first time, abortion providers in Indiana
will be required to give women information about the risks.
Were glad that the court battles look like theyre
Finally, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals recently upheld Arizonas parental consent
law, which requires the consent of a parent or guardian for
girls under 18 to have an abortion. The 1999 law had been
rendered ineffective as the result of a lawsuit filed by Planned
Parenthood, which said the law did not guarantee the privacy
of girls who sought a judges approval for an abortion.
The 2-1 decision by the Court of Appeals paves the way for
the law to now go into effect.
USA Today, 2/27/03; AP, 2/25/03;
complaints result in removal of cross
After nearly four decades, a 30-foot cross that towered above
Oklahomas State Fair Park (in Oklahoma City) was taken
down as the result of two complaints charging that its existence
on the fair grounds violated the U.S. Constitutions
prohibition against state-sponsored religion.
An article in The Daily Oklahoman indicated the cross was
removed upon instructions from City Manager Jim Couch after
he received two letters suggesting the city would be sued
because the fair park, while run by the private Oklahoma State
Fair, is owned by the city.
Both complaints originated as the result of watch-dog
organizations devoted to upholding their perceived notion
of separation of church and state. While the first
letter came from an Oklahoma City resident, Mr. Jim Worrell,
he used the removal of the cross from Edmond, Oklahomas,
city seal as the basis for his argument. That cross was removed
as the result of a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties
The second letter, penned by the Wisconsin-based Freedom from
Religion Foundation, echoed Worrells complaint and asked
that the cross be removed.
Its a sad commentary on the state of our nation
when two complaints based on incorrect information can have
such an adverse effect, said Don Wildmon, chairman of
American Family Association. Christians must begin writing
letters and making phone calls to stand against actions such
as these. Most of us have kept quiet and allowed such false
interpretation of our Constitution far too long.
The Daily Oklahoman, 2/27/03