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Jesus March, Gay Prom, German Baptists & Turkey

Jesus March, Gay Prom, German Baptists & Turkey


In Today's Edition:

  • March for Jesus to go Forward in Arizona after Legal Dispute
  • Campaign Against Churches Continues In Turkey
  • Canadian Catholic School Forced to Allow Gay Prom Date
  • German Baptists Look For Way Out of Deep Crisis
  • Other Headlines at a Glance

March for Jesus to go Forward in Arizona after Legal Dispute ... Alice Benson, the organizer of the March for Jesus in Douglas, Ariz., would not be denied the same access to public property as other parade leaders. When the city officials told her the March for Jesus (MFJ) would not be able to use the streets of Douglas as other parades do - Cinco de Mayo, Christmas, and the Fourth of July parades, for instance - she turned to the Alliance Defense Fund. "I believe as Christians, we cannot be afraid to go public and fight for our rights," Benson said. "If we continue doing nothing, we're going to lose all our rights."

The city told Benson on April 19 that the march could use its usual parade route, but because of "staffing constraints," there would be no traffic control for the march. According to Michael J. Ortega, the Douglas city manager, marchers could only use the sidewalks. The Alliance Defense Fund sent a demand letter to the city, explaining the court precedents supporting Benson's request. A few days later, Ortega reversed himself and said that the march could be held on the requested parade route. Now, the march will go forward on May 18, 2002, as originally hoped.

Benjamin W. Bull, chief counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said the city's response demonstrates the continuing need for people of faith to stand up for their legal rights.

Campaign Against Churches Continues In Turkey ... As a campaign by police to shut down 18 churches in Turkey continues, Christians are now forced to endure aggressive anti-Christian demonstrations held by Muslim conservatives outside their churches every Sunday. According to the Barnabas Fund News Service, demonstrators carry placards with slogans such as "Every missionary is a spy" and accuse Christians of sinister involvement in violence against Muslim Palestinians in the Holy Land.

Barnabas Fund reports that as the campaign continues, local authorities have levied fines against the churches and filed claims against their leaders. In Izmit police are maintaining a vigilant presence at every service at one local church and have even followed members of the congregation home in order to threaten and intimidate them. In Ankara and Istanbul, Christian schools have been shut down.

According to Barnabas Fund, in recent years, Christians in Turkey were free to meet and worship without fear of harassment or intimidation. Then in November and December 2001, several television programs and newspaper articles attacking Christianity created a stir amongst the majority-Muslim population. Barnabas Fund believes these programs seem to have prompted the crack down by Turkish authorities, which many believe is being driven by certain Islamic and nationalist elements.

Canadian Catholic School Forced to Allow Gay Prom Date ... The VOM Persecution & Prayer Alert reports that on May 10, the Ontario Superior Court granted an injunction that Marc Hall cannot be banned from taking his boyfriend to his prom tonight at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic high school in Oshawa, Ontario.

The school board had argued that, as a Roman Catholic institution, it could not be seen as a approving a homosexual lifestyle. They had argued that dating was an "acting out" of homosexual orientation and, as such, could not be condoned by the Catholic Church. In his decision, the judge said that the boy, as a Roman Catholic, should be free to express himself as a gay Catholic. He acknowledged that the position of the school board, even though recognized as authentically Catholic by its bishop, can be subject to scrutiny as being "not the only Catholic position."

German Baptists Look For Way Out of Deep Crisis ... According to the German evangelical news agency "idea," the German Baptist Union is trying to find a way out of its deep leadership and financial crisis. In recent months, two presidents and three directors resigned or retired from their offices. The Baptist Union, which also includes some Brethren churches, represents 86,000 members in 860 local congregations.

The Baptist Union carries a debt burden of U.S. $23 million. According to idea, the deficit was accumulated in the course of building a new center in Elstal near Berlin, which opened in 1997. To reduce the annual credit costs of U.S. $910,000, a drastic stabilization program is to be introduced. According to first plans, the home mission would face severe cuts and there would no longer be a full time evangelist.

This has prompted severe criticism from within the Union, which has suffered a membership decline of 0.7 percent last year. Over the last 10 years, figures have dropped by 900 to 86,092. The decline is not only due to a surplus of deaths over baptisms. Last year, 1,689 Baptists terminated their membership, up 40 percent. One whole congregation with 350 members - mostly ethnic German immigrants from Russia - quit the Union, idea added.

Other Headlines at a Glance: