Religion Today Summaries, February 28, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, February 28, 2003

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

  • Supreme Court Rules RICO Incorrectly Applied to Pro-Life Groups
  • House Approves Bill to Outlaw Human Cloning
  • Station Criticized for Censoring 'God Ad'
  • Presbyterian Minister Fred Rogers, Children's Program Host, Dead at 74

Supreme Court Rules RICO Incorrectly Applied to Pro-Life Groups
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) Groups on opposite sides of the abortion issue had varying reactions to the Supreme Court's decision Wednesday (Feb. 26) that a federal racketeering law was wrongly used to halt abortion opponents such as Operation Rescue.  Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, writing for a 8-1 majority, said there is no disagreement that abortion protesters interfered with operations at abortion clinics and committed crimes in some cases, the Associated Press reported.  "But even when their acts of interference and disruption achieved their ultimate goal of `shutting down' a clinic that performed abortions, such acts did not constitute extortion," he wrote.  Christian groups cheered the decision concerning the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.  Several groups supporting the verdict said it would help other kinds of protesters as well.  Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council, said that violent acts against abortion clinics can be prosecuted without the use of RICO.  "What NOW and other pro-abortion groups want to do is threaten pro-lifers with financial ruin in order to silence debate," he said.  "Watch for pro-abortion groups to protest this decision," Connor said.  "The irony is that they will be exercising the very rights they seek to deny to others.  The hypocrisy is breathtaking."

House Approves Bill to Outlaw Human Cloning
Randy Hall
( The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would make all human cloning illegal.  The final House vote on Thursday was 241 to 155, and it came after a long and heated debate in which some lawmakers asked for an exception to the provision, which would sentence violators to prison and fines as high as $1 million, so researchers could work toward cures for such illnesses as diabetes and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.  However, arguments such as those presented by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) carried the day.  "We cannot afford to treat the issue of human embryo cloning lightly," said Stupak, who was the co-author of a complete ban with Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.).  "The human race is not open to experimentation at any level, even the molecular level."  Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America (CWA), agreed with the House decision.  "Cloning is unnecessary, dangerous and evil," Rios said.  "Despite the overwhelming onslaught of propaganda to convince Americans that cloning is necessary to restore the broken body of Christopher Reeve, the House has determined to rule based on truth and not false promises."

Station Criticized for Censoring 'God Ad'

(Charisma News) A Colorado station affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR) has come under fire for rebuffing a Christian dentist's sponsorship.  According to "The Durango Herald," Ignacio-based KSUT, which regularly provides on-air statements for sponsors, recently rejected Glenn Rutherford's dental practice motto, "Gently Restoring the Health God Created."  "I was called and told that there was a meeting of the [radio's] staff and they unanimously agreed that I can't put the word 'God' in our sponsorship spot," said Rutherford, noting that the motto is on his office's letterhead and business cards.  KSUT officials declined to comment on the matter.  American Family Association chairman Don Wildmon said KSUT and NPR are taxpayer-funded, and this type of discrimination is typical of their hostility toward Christianity.  "KSUT and NPR should make their motto,  'If you are a Christian, we don't want your money ... we don't want your support,'" Wildmon said.  "Every Christian business owner in America should immediately pull his or her support from the intolerant NPR."  NPR was forced recently to make an on-air apology for implying in a January 2002 broadcast that Christian-based Traditional Values Coalition was involved in anthrax mailings.

Presbyterian Minister Fred Rogers, Children's Program Host, Dead at 74
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) The Rev. Fred Rogers, the popular host of the children's TV program "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and a minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA), died Thursday (Feb. 27).  He was 74.  Rogers had recently been diagnosed with stomach cancer.  He was a neighbor to the nation's children on the show he produced from 1968 to 2000 at Pittsburgh public television station WQED.  "I have never really considered myself a TV star," Rogers said in a 1995 interview. "I always thought I was a neighbor who just came in for a visit."  The Emmy Award-winning children's advocate came out of retirement to record public service announcements advising parents on how to help their children cope with the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.  In an interview in the March 1998 issue of Presbyterians Today magazine, Rogers spoke about how his faith and work intertwined.  Before taping each show he would pray to God: "Let some word that is said be yours."  Rogers told the magazine that he believed Jesus welcomed children and the church should, too: "I think Jesus delighted in the presence of children."