Religion Today Summaries, March 11, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, March 11, 2003

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

  • Christian Leaders Suggest Principles for Bush AIDS Policy
  • Saudi Arabia Let Off the Hook for Violations of Religious Freedoms, Again
  • Researchers Find Colleges Need to Address Moral, Civic Issues More
  • Bishops Set June Deadline for Abuse Policies

Christian Leaders Suggest Principles for Bush AIDS Policy
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) More than a dozen Christian leaders have applauded President Bush's global HIV/AIDS initiative and proposed principles for future policy addressing the disease. Leaders such as Prison Fellowship Chairman Chuck Colson and Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, outlined their own principles for global AIDS legislation that reflect their stands for abstinence and against abortion. They urged that prevention techniques use the "ABC" model that has been successful in Uganda -- focusing on abstinence first, then being faithful to a monogamous partner and, thirdly, condoms. "Condoms must no longer be treated as a panacea of HIV prevention," they wrote in a letter to President Bush. The signatories also called for inclusion of faith-based organizations as a key aspect of prevention and treatment programs, protection of victims of sexual violence, and preservation of families. Other signatories included James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family; Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America; the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals; Ken Connor, president of Family Research Council; Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse; and Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America.

Saudi Arabia Let Off the Hook for Violations of Religious Freedoms, Again

(VOM Canada) The U.S. State Department is not including Saudi Arabia on its list of countries that violate religious freedom. The annual report lists nations subject to diplomatic action for "systematic, ongoing and egregious" violations of religious freedom. According to Freedom House, placing Saudi Arabia on this list would not require specific diplomatic actions by the US, since the policies surrounding it are very broad. However, critics believe that the US is concerned about keeping Saudi support in the Middle East. Christians in Saudi Arabia face constant danger. There is documented evidence of Christians who have been held, tortured, killed and expelled from the country, often without charge, because of their religious beliefs and practices.

Researchers Find Colleges Need to Address Moral, Civic Issues More
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) The nation's colleges and universities need to do more to address moral and civic learning among undergraduates, scholars have concluded after a three-year study. "Students' moral and civic development is not a high priority in American higher education," said Anne Colby, a scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. "We have been struck again and again by the many lost opportunities for moral and civic growth in curricular and extra-curricular programs on most campuses." Colby is one of the authors of "Educating Citizens: Preparing America's Undergraduates for Lives of Moral and Civic Responsibility." The authors urge campuses to proactively address such values as truth and mutual respect for others in academic life. "Colleges and universities ought to place these values at the center of their work if they are committed to graduating engaged and responsible citizens," said Tom Ehrlich, another author and scholar at the foundation in Menlo Park, Calif. They recommend integrating civic and moral issues into the curriculum and using extracurricular activities such as leadership development programs and political and service clubs as strategies to prepare socially responsible, civic-minded graduates.

Bishops Set June Deadline for Abuse Policies
Kevin Eckstrom

(RNS) In slightly more than three months, all Catholic dioceses in the United States must have in place blueprints to create "safe environment" programs to protect children from sexual abuse. The nation's 194 dioceses have until June 20 to finalize their plans on how to protect children, educate parents and investigate church workers with access to children, including priests. A comprehensive plan must be in place by the beginning of the 2003-2004 school year, according to a directive sent in late February from the Office of Child and Youth Protection, which was established last June by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All church employees with access to children must sign a written code of conduct and undergo training about children and abuse, including how to prevent, detect, respond to and report suspected abuse. The guidelines, issued by executive director Kathleen McChesney, also mandate "background investigations of personnel who have regular contact with minors ... by a reputable professional agency, law enforcement or social service agency." The programs should also include training and materials for parents and age-appropriate education programs for children on how to spot inappropriate behavior by adults.