Gay Protest at SBC, Australian Bishop, India & TWR President

Gay Protest at SBC, Australian Bishop, India & TWR President

In Today's Edition:

* Homosexual Activists to Again Protest at SBC Annual Meeting
* Top Australian Bishop Criticized Over Handling Of Sex Abuse Charges
* Evangelical Fellowship of India Calls India & Pakistan to Peaceful Solution.
* Christians In Ex-Soviet States Expect Suffering
* New Trans World Radio President Reaffirms Commitment to Youth Ministry

Homosexual Activists to Again Protest at SBC Annual Meeting ... On June 11, hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals and allies will converge on the America's Center during the first day of the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC's) annual meeting to distribute flyers, hold a press conference and conduct civil disobedience. This is the third year in a row that Soulforce has been present to protest the Southern Baptist annual meeting.

A press conference will take place on June 11 at 10:45, in front of the America's Center, just prior to the scheduled address of SBC President Dr. James Merritt to the entire Southern Baptist Convention. According to a letter faxed by Soulforce to Merritt on May 23, Merritt was invited to join the press conference to "denounce the anti-gay rhetoric of influential Southern Baptist Justice Roy Moore." According to the Soulforce letter, Moore stated in a "legal opinion" in February of this year that, "The state must use...confinement and even execution to prevent gays and lesbians from influencing children."

Soulforce spokesperson, Laura Montgomery Rutt, noted, "The fact that James Merritt refuses to repudiate Justice Moore's 'execution statement' should horrify the 15 million members of Southern Baptist Churches. It is our hope that his silence a not sign that all Southern Baptists condone violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people."

Top Australian Bishop Criticized Over Handling Of Sex Abuse Charges ... From CNS News - Attacks on the Catholic Church over child-sex allegations have arrived in Australia, with allegations that a leading bishop tried to buy the silence of sex abuse victims. Victims have called for the resignation of Archbishop of Sydney George Pell, and Prime Minister John Howard is resisting pressure from opposition politicians and campaigners to appoint a commission of inquiry into the allegations.

Pell, an outspoken pro-life advocate, was accused in a televised documentary Sunday of having offered "hush money" to David Ridsdale, who said he had from the age of 11 been repeatedly molested by his uncle, Gerald Ridsdale, a Catholic priest subsequently convicted of pedophilia. The documentary also alleged Pell had offered to buy the silence of two girls who had been molested by another priest over a six-year period, beginning when they were only five years old. The offender was jailed for 15 months in 1995, and died some time after his release.

Pell was interviewed by the program and agreed that the older of the two girls was offered 50,000 Australian dollars ($28,300) in compensation. The program said the money was intended to buy the family's silence, and Pell himself said: "There is a requirement that they don't talk about it and most of them are happy not to." But Pell called a press conference Monday morning to clarify that there had been no obligation on the girls or their family to keep silent in exchange for the money. Pell said he had been unprepared for the questioning - he called the interview an "ambush - and had made an "honest mistake" about the confidentiality issue.

Evangelical Fellowship of India Calls India & Pakistan to Peaceful Solution ... The external affairs minister Jaswant Singh's description of Pakistan President's speech on May 27 as "disappointing and dangerous" is noteworthy, according to a press statement from Rev. Richard Howell, General Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India. "The belligerent posturing of the General and the test firing of missiles of various ranges and the frequent export of terror into India from Pakistan can only add to the volatile situation on the border."

The statement continues: "After the gunning down of innocent women and children in Kaluchak, India's worst fears have been confirmed. Militant activities on our borders prove that the General mouth's words that are not translated into actions. Even as world leaders continue to visit both Pakistan and India, the General continues to brag to 'storm India.' India on the other hand has taken a firm stand with a resolve to root our imported terrorism from our soil. This is legitimate and is being appreciated by the world community." Howell concludes, "As war is not beautiful, it will bring in its wake death, destruction and untold human misery."

Christians In Ex-Soviet States Expect Suffering ... (ANS) As the world attention focused on the India-Pakistan conflict and the U.S.-led war against terrorism, Christians across the former Soviet Union began preparing for a new period of persecution, according to reports monitored by ASSIST News Service (ANS) June 1.

In Belarus, which has been criticized by Western diplomats for human rights violations, proposed legislation will lead to the banning of unregistered religious activity, said Keston News Service (KNS). Under the new law foreigners will also be prevented from leading religious organizations, while religious literature is subjected to prior compulsory censorship. In addition, religious groups with fewer than 20 adult citizen members in any one location will be denied the possibility of registering if new proposals to amend the religion law will be adopted by the Belarus parliament, KNS reported.

Elsewhere in what was the Soviet Union, Christians on June 1 were looking forward to church services in difficult circumstances. In Islamic Uzbekistan "actions have recently been resumed which could soon lead to a significant restriction on religious freedom in our country," said an open letter from Protestant Christians released via KNS. It cites a number of events in recent weeks, including a senior religious affairs official's demand that churches stop preaching in the country's official language, Uzbek, as well as the detention of eighteen Christians following an investigation into the sources of Christian literature in Central Asian languages. (Compiled by Stefan J. Bos).

New Trans World Radio President Reaffirms Commitment to Youth Ministry ... As David G. Tucker is commissioned this weekend as Trans World Radio's (TWR) third president, the international Christian broadcaster's future top executive reaffirms TWR's priority commitment to children and youth ministry. "While in America there is talk about how baby boomers are aging, much of the world is growing younger, and this deeply concerns me," Tucker says. "Across the globe, so many children are suffering, particularly in the emerging world. This age group loves radio and listens faithfully and intensely. And so, TWR is redoubling efforts to connect with this fragile audience and by radio present God's unending love and the glorious claims of Jesus Christ."

Trans World Radio is the most far-reaching Christian broadcasting network in the world. Each week, TWR broadcasts more than 1,800 hours of Gospel programs in over 180 languages and dialects from 13 super-power transmitting sites and by satellite. It also airs programs via more than 1,600 local stations and transmitters. TWR is on the air in more than languages than BBC, Voice of America, China Radio International, and Voice of Russia combined. Not only is TWR initiating new and additional broadcasts to children and youth, Tucker says he expects the Mission will strike strategic alliances with ministries that specialize in youth ministry. "We will link with other Christian organizations and cooperate with them to help reach the next generation and minister to their unique needs," he says.