Religion Today Summaries, February 10, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, February 10, 2003

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

In Today's Edition:

  • Religious Leaders, Scientists Issue `Manifesto' on Cloning
  • Insurgents Assassinate Columbian Pastor
  • Attack on American Evangelist Ends in Deportation
  • Invitation for Sharpton to Speak at Catholic Church Draws Outrage

Religious Leaders, Scientists Issue `Manifesto' on Cloning
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) More than 25 religious and scientific leaders have signed a new "manifesto on biotechnology" that calls for the banning of all human cloning and legislation that will prevent discrimination based on genetic information.  "We are thankful for the hope that biotechnology offers of new treatments for some of the most dreaded diseases," says the declaration.  "But the same technology can be used for good or ill."  Signatories on "The Sanctity of Life in a Brave New World: A Manifesto on Biotechnology" include Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson, Focus on the Family President James Dobson and physicians Ben Carson and C. Everett Koop.  Other signatories, such as quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada, president of Joni and Friends, a ministry to the disabled, supported the use of adult stem cells for research rather than cells from embryos to address possible cures for disease.  "The search for a cure should never compromise the security of human dignity and respect for human life,' she said.  "The elderly, infirmed and disabled are exposed and threatened in a society which thinks nothing of creating a class of human beings for the explicit purpose of exploitation."

Insurgents Assassinate Columbian Pastor

(Compass) Unidentified gunmen in Colombia assassinated Rev. Jose Juan Lozada Corteza, pastor of the Evangelical Christian Church of San Antonio.  According to the Evangelical Council of Colombia (CEDECOL), uniformed men stopped the public bus in which Lozada was traveling and singled out the clergyman from the rest of the passengers.  Forcing him off the vehicle, assailants shot Lozada in the head in full view of bystanders.  The gunmen, members of an illegal armed group fighting the country’s protracted civil war, reportedly also killed a member of Rev. Lozada’s church who was traveling with him.  In another incident, CEDECOL leaders urged Rev. Esnilder Popó, pastor of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Santander, Cauca, to leave the community following an attempt on his life during Sunday worship services in November.  According to Amnesty International, more than 60,000 persons have died in the fighting since 1985, with civilians comprising 80 percent of the victims.  At least 72 Protestant pastors and 33 Catholic priests have been killed.

Attack on American Evangelist Ends in Deportation

(Compass) When American missionary Joseph Cooper was attacked and then deported from India, it brought attention to visa regulations.  At least 50 missionaries could be deported in the near future if government authorities act on a list of names compiled by the World Hindu Council, or VHP.  Cooper, 68, sustained major injuries on January 13 when a gang believed to be members of militant Hindu Rashtriya Swaysamsevak Sangh group attacked him with knives, sticks, swords and crowbars.  Seven Indian Christians participating with Cooper in a preaching service at the Koppam Harijan colony in Kerala state were also injured in the brutal attack.  Indian church associations have issued statements asking evangelists to exercise sensitivity to local religious sentiments.  The incident has created difficulties for a number of foreign missionaries who teach at seminaries or Bible colleges in various parts of the country.

Invitation for Sharpton to Speak at Catholic Church Draws Outrage
Randy Hall
( As part of its Black History Celebration, St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago invited Rev. Al Sharpton to speak during its worship service on Sunday, Feb. 9, despite his pro-abortion views.  Judie Brown, president of the pro-life American Life League (ALL), said that Sharpton's pro-abortion stance makes the invitation an "outrage" and is calling for his appearance to be cancelled.  "Just two weeks ago, Rev. Al Sharpton expressed his unabashed support for legal abortion at NARAL's Roe v. Wade dinner," said Brown.  "You can't imagine the utter shock I felt when I learned that this man who promotes the sin of abortion was scheduled to speak this Sunday at St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago."  Sharpton isn't the first controversial speaker to address the St. Sabina congregation in 2003.  Entertainer/activist Harry Belafonte, who compared Secretary of State Colin Powell to a "house slave" and said the Bush administration is pressuring Hollywood to make war movies and violent films to "push" its war machine, was the guest speaker at the church's Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in mid-January.