Religion Today Summaries, January 21, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, January 21, 2003

Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top national and international religious news stories impacting Christians

In Today's Edition:

  • Pro-Life Youth Hold Prayer Rally At DC Abortion Clinic
  • UN Body Selects Libyan Over US, Human Rights Pleas
  • Include Human Rights in Talks with N. Korea Religious Liberty Leaders Urge
  • Ban on Public 'Jesus' Prayers New Focal Point for Church-State Clashes

Pro-Life Youth Hold Prayer Rally At DC Abortion Clinic
Jeff Johnson

( More than 200 pro-life youth from across the country gathered in the nation's capital Monday to begin three days of prayer rallies and peaceful protests centered around the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion during all nine months of pregnancy.  "It's wrong to kill children in the womb. They are human beings, and they have souls that are very precious to God," said Therese Nazar, a teen from La Crosse, Wis.  "They have a right to live."  The group gathered on a public sidewalk across the street from one of the Planned Parenthood abortion facilities in Washington, D.C., for more than an hour in a frigid wind praying, singing praise songs and hymns, and reading scriptures they believe prove that "God is pro-life."  Brian Kemper - director of Rock For Life, a division of American Life League - told the youth attending the rally that Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations had misled them.  "That is not a women's 'health clinic,' and it's not a 'reproductive choice' place," Kemper said.  "It's a place where babies are killed, and we want that to stop." 

UN Body Selects Libyan Over US, Human Rights Pleas
Mike Wendling
( Despite opposition from U.S. officials and leading human rights groups, a Libyan was elected to lead the top U.N. human rights body on Monday.  In a secret ballot conducted by the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission, Libyan candidate Najat al-Hajjaji won 33 votes versus three against and 17 abstentions.  Libya, one of six countries on the U.S. State Department's list of terror-sponsoring nations, will now lead the annual U.N. Human Rights Commission session beginning in March.  U.S. Ambassador Kevin E. Moley, America's envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, expressed dismay at the commission's decision.  "The United States is deeply disappointed that the members of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights have elected Libya, a known human rights abuser and a country under U.N. sanctions," Moley said.  "A country with this record does not merit a leadership role in the U.N. system," Moley said. "We are convinced that the best way for the commission to ensure the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human to have a membership comprised of countries with strong human rights records at home."

Include Human Rights in Talks with N. Korea Religious Liberty Leaders Urge
Tom Strode

(Baptists Press) Southern Baptist religious liberty specialist Richard Land and 16 others have called on President Bush to agree to North Korea's demand for negotiations while requiring the communist regime to include human rights in the discussion.  In a statement published Jan. 17 in the Wall Street Journal signers expressed hope the elevation of human rights in negotiations could lead to greater democracy and individual freedoms, including religious liberty, in the Asian country and other parts of the world.  Among the signers in addition to Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, were religious freedom advocates Charles Colson, Richard Neuhaus and Nina Shea, as well as former federal government officials James Woolsey, Penn Kemble and Max Kampelman.  The highly secretive country is a notorious suppressor of human rights and a leading persecutor of religious adherents.  In what they described as a statement of principles on relations between the two countries, Land and the others recommended that Bush agree to North Korea's demand for nuclear negotiations on the condition the communist regime "negotiate over allowing institutions that promote such human rights as the free exchange of people, religious liberty, open borders and family reunification."

Ban on Public 'Jesus' Prayers New Focal Point for Church-State Clashes
Andy Butcher

(Charisma News) The name of Jesus is set to replace the Ten Commandments as the new focal point for church-state clashes at city halls.  While public displays of God's laws on civic property have been the center of constitutional disputes for the last couple of years, attention seems set to switch to local authorities' pre-meeting public prayers.  The debate has been sparked in California, where city councils have been trying to figure out how to ensure the name of Jesus is not invoked, following a state appeals court ruling that lets stand a ban on sectarian comments.  Several cities are set to back the city of Burbank, should it decide to go to the U.S. Supreme Court over a ruling that has barred prayers in the name of Jesus, on the grounds that it violated the constitutionally required separation of church and state.  Burbank mayor David Laurell told "The Orange County Register" the lawsuit "has already had statewide impact and could have nationwide impact." He added: "I'm all for invocations that are all-inclusive, but I don't want me or anybody else to tell people that it has to be that way."