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Newdow Responds, Lutheran Rift, AIDS Benefit & more

Newdow Responds, Lutheran Rift, AIDS Benefit & more


In Today's Edition:

  • Michael Newdow Responds to ASSIST Article
  • Rift in Lutheran Denomination Deepens
  • Michael W. Smith And Phil Ramone Partner To Fight AIDS
  • Sri Lankan Ministry Plants Church

Michael Newdow Responds to ASSIST Article ... On July 4, ASSIST News Service (ANS) published an article by Rev. Austin Miles alleging that Michael Newdow, the atheist who filed complaint to ban the Pledge of Allegiance, may have committed perjury. Newdow believes that there are errors in the article, which need correction. In the interest of fairness, ANS has given him the space to respond.

Newdow offered the following corrections: Rev. Miles reported that I "claimed that [my] second grade daughter was required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance against her will at the Elk Grove Unified School District." On the contrary, I specifically and affirmatively pointed out - from my original complaint onward - that my daughter was not forced to recite the pledge.

The article alleged: "The reference, under God, that my daughter was forced to recite, caused her emotional damage, stress, anxiety and a sense of being left out." I never said any such thing. As far as I can recall, the words, "emotional damage," "stress," and "anxiety" have never been used by me anywhere in this case.

The article stated that I am "separated from [my] wife and daughter." In fact, the mother and I were never married, and - although we live in separate homes - we share (albeit unequally) physical custody of our child. The mother lives four hundred miles away from Costa Mesa, which Rev. Miles reported was her home city.

The article stated that the child "was involuntarily dragged in as a pawn in this case." In fact, I have totally sheltered my daughter from involvement in the case, taking care to keep her anonymous. Nowhere in the lawsuit is she named or in any way identifiable.

The article went on to further contend: "She was not emotionally injured or damaged in any way as falsely claimed by her absent father, Michael Newdow, in order to deceive the court into making this insane ruling." I never made any such claim, and I am anything but an absent father. In fact, I moved from the East coast to the West coast just to be with my child, and could not conceive of living apart from her. Another statement in the article read: "This infamous case, which has outraged most Americans, even more so due to the fraudulent manner in which this case was brought to the court, dictates that perjury charges be filed against Newdow."

All of my pleadings have been available to the public for the past two years at . The public is free to review all of my words at its leisure. I challenge anyone to come up with any evidence of fraud. Rev. Miles wrote, "He lied to the court under oath." This statement is without any foundation.

~ ANS apologizes for any inaccuracies. ~

Rift in Lutheran Denomination Deepens  ... The Washington Post reports the host of "The Lutheran Hour," a St. Louis-based gospel program carried by more than 1,000 radio stations, has been temporarily taken off the air "in a deepening rift within one of the most theologically conservative Protestant denominations, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod."

According to the Post, the Rev. Wallace Schulz, a vice president in the church and also the Lutheran Hour's main preacher, took action against a New York pastor who had prayed with Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs in an interfaith 9-11 service at Yankee Stadium. Schulz ruled that the Rev. David H. Benke was guilty of "syncretism" -- mixing Christian and non-Christian beliefs - "because he had prayed with 'pagans' in the Sept. 23 service organized by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and emceed by Oprah Winfrey," says the Post.

When the Lutheran Hour came under heavy fire following Schulz's decision, the ministry voted to suspend him. Schulz declined to comment on Benke's suspension or his own, according to the Post. He was not acting in his role as a speaker with The Lutheran Hour when he ruled against Benke, but as the second vice president of the Missouri Synod. The decision fell to him because the president and first vice president had recused themselves.

The incident points out a key question facing the church, the Post noted: Should Christians "take the gospel into the public square in a pluralistic, multicultural society? To many members of the Missouri Synod, praying with people of other faiths is a profound betrayal of their history and beliefs. The synod was founded in the early 19th century by Lutherans who fled Prussia rather than accede to King Friedrich Wilhelm III's order to worship with Calvinists, and it has maintained a stricter theological line than its sister denomination, the 5.1-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America."

Michael W. Smith And Phil Ramone Partner To Fight AIDS ... GRAMMY Award winning artist and composer, Michael W. Smith and legendary producer Phil Ramone (Bono, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Barbra Streisand, Luciano Pavarotti) are teaming up to record a song for the album Songs For Life. Executive produced by Ramone, proceeds from the album, to be released on Interscope Records in October, will go towards AIDS relief efforts in Africa. Songs For Life will contain songs of positive messages performed by prominent recording artists dedicating their time and talents to the cause.

Smith says, "Earlier this year, Phil and I had the honor of meeting with His Majesty King Mswati III of Swaziland. After hearing about the devastation, we felt the need to find a way to help the king and his people battle this tremendous disease. We decided that we'd link arms in raising both awareness and funding to assist in the fight of AIDS in his country."

King Mswati has declared the AIDS situation in the kingdom to be a "national disaster" and made the fight against AIDS the top social welfare priority for the government. Due to the rapid spread of HIV, the overflow of hospitals with a 200 - 300 percent occupancy ratio, lack of access to affordable anti-retroviral therapies, and the growing numbers of orphans, elderly and destitute infected by this disease, the United Nations Foundation and His Majesty have requested aid, and the music community is responding.

Smith, so moved by the immense tragedy in Africa, has been talking about this during many of his concerts; one of which was the recent Creation East Festival. Before a crowd of over 70,000 people, Smith paralleled relationships and worship with lifestyle, highlighting the importance of pouring one's life into the lives of others. He then debuted a three-minute video taped by DATA (Debt, AIDS and Trade in Africa) founder and U2's front man, Bono. Bono appealed to the crowd to get involved and take ownership in helping the world's poorest and most needy and noted that we are all called to embrace this as our own issue as it impacts the world.

Sri Lankan Ministry Plants Church ... An indigenous ministry reports a successful church plant in strongly Buddhist Sri Lanka, according to Christian Aid's "Mission Insider." The leader told Christian Aid that with contributions of faithful believers the ministry purchased a piece of land near the river in a seaside community and constructed a small thatch shelter with concrete floor. Already 40 to 45 believers gather there regularly.

"This area is influenced by various cults, sorceries and witchcraft," the leader said. Countering this, workers go house to house boldly proclaiming the glory of the Lord and distributing Christian literature. Begun in 1970, the ministry has seven full-time workers who have planted churches in seven areas of Sri Lanka. Workers often face extreme opposition as they preach the gospel among Buddhists, Roman Catholics and Tamil rebels. They also win Hindus to Christ and reach into the Free Trade Zone, where 100,000 young men and women labor in 180 factories.

The leader said that a believer in his headquarters church works in a physical training center and often speaks about Christ's wonderful salvation to young men who come to work out. Those who show an interest are brought to the church for teaching and discipleship. "Recently 37 young men surrendered to the Lord and obeyed the waters of baptism," the leader said. For more information, write to [email protected] and put MI-328 701-HGF on the subject line.