Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Conservative Christians Hail Rejection of Gay Marriage
- Family Values Debate Requires Increased Political Participation
- Lao's Untold War Against Christians
- Pope Says `Esteemed Gift of Celibacy' Is Integral Part of Priest's Life
Conservative Christians Hail Rejection of Gay Marriage
Adelle Banks, Religion News Service
Conservative Christian organizations are cheering a Wednesday opinion by Arizona's Court of Appeals that concluded that same-sex partners do not have the legal right to marry. "We hold that the fundamental right to marry protected by our federal and state constitutions does not encompass the right to marry a same-sex partner," concluded Judge Ann A. Scott Timmer. "The choice to marry a same-sex partner has not taken sufficient root to receive constitutional protection as a fundamental right." The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, called the case a defeat of an effort by a gay couple to apply the Supreme Court's decision upholding sodomy to same-sex marriage. "The Arizona Court of Appeals rejected any notion that Lawrence v. Texas legitimized same-sex marriage," said the chief counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, also welcomed the ruling. "The court's decision today is completely in line with both the historical and legal definitions of marriage," he said in a statement. The court said the couple failed in their attempts to argue that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right. The court concluded that Arizona voters, working through their elected representatives or a state initiative, would be the ones to determine whether same-sex marriages should be permitted.
Family Values Debate Requires Increased Political Participation
As the culture war intensifies, there is a chance Americans will be seeing more U.S. religious leaders involved in political campaigns in the future. At a recent press conference in Washington, DC, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family said citizens may soon be seeing him in a new light. Dobson's pro-family organization has been very careful in the past to avoid associating him with specific candidates and their policies at election time. But because of the politicized debate over pro-family issues such as the defense of traditional marriage, this may be changing for Dobson. "This may have to be fought out on a political level, and if so, let's go for it," he commented recently. The ministry founder, who notes that he has resigned as FOTF's president, though he remains the chairman of its board, says he is "prepared to take a leave of absence and be involved in those races where there is an obvious lack of understanding of this issue." Dobson referred to "others surrounding me," Christian activists and ministry leaders that he believes may be willing to become more vocal and proactive in the political battle for family values in America. Some religious leaders, claiming they have difficulty trusting either of the leading political parties in the U.S., are not ruling out the possibility of even running for office themselves.
Lao's Untold War Against Christians
Christian Aid Report
A report this week from the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission reveals how the Lao government is waging a relentless war against Christianity. The Hmong, a people group who are a minority in Laos but dwell in large numbers in several countries of Southeast Asia, are major--though not exclusive--targets. Large numbers of them have turned to Christ, and are considered spies of the West, enemies of the state, and fit for extermination. Lao believers are beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and forced from their lands for refusing to renounce their faith. "The government wants us to go back and worship evil spirits," wrote a believer in June. Villagers are encouraged to report any Christians to authorities, to be arrested or eliminated. Early in September the WEA interviewed a Lao observer, who said that many Hmong groups were hiding in the jungle. "The army is attacking in three ways: with ground troops, bombs from aircrafts, and chemical weapons," the observer said. "The government uses helicopters and they spray out something that looks like 'yellow rain.' It creates headaches, diarrhea, blindness, and the teeth fall out of the mouth. Within three weeks people die. Others die from disease and starvation, and some have been captured and killed.
Pope Says `Esteemed Gift of Celibacy' Is Integral Part of Priest's Life
Peggy Polk, Religion News Service
Pope John Paul II strongly defended priestly celibacy Thursday (Oct. 9), calling it an "esteemed gift" that is "an integral part of a priest's life." The Roman Catholic pontiff appeared to brush aside suggestions that in the wake of recent scandals over pedophile priests and concern over homosexual seminarians the Catholic Church might reconsider its ban on married priests. "Today's clergy must be careful not to adopt the secular view of priesthood as a profession, a career and a means of earning a living. Rather, the clergy must see the priesthood as a vocation to selfless, loving service, embracing wholeheartedly the esteemed gift of celibacy and all that this involves," John Paul told visiting bishops. "Here I wish to emphasize that celibacy is to be regarded as an integral part of the priest's exterior and interior life and not just as a long-standing ideal which is to be respected," he said. The pope deplored "the lifestyle of some clergy" who abandon "the priestly virtues of charity, prayer, chastity and faithful celebration of the liturgy, practices unappreciated or even rejected by modern culture and its media." He advised the bishops to be "just and merciful" but said at times they must exercise "strict discipline in order to serve the common good."