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Religion Today Summaries, June 19, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, June 19, 2003

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.  In today's edition:

  • 'Jane Roe' Wants Abortion Case Overturned

  • Canadian Government Assures Churches on Same-Sex Marraiges

  • Lao Authorities Evict Five Christian Families

  • Muslim Officials Request More Christian Teachers in Indonesia

'Jane Roe' Wants Abortion Case Overturned
Charisma News Service

Now a Christian, the former plaintiff known as "Jane Roe" in the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion wants the case overturned in a motion filed yesterday, asking the courts to consider new evidence that abortion hurts women. Norma McCorvey, who joined the pro-life movement shortly after accepting Christ in 1995 and says she regrets her role in Roe v. Wade, said the Supreme Court's decision is no longer valid because scientific and anecdotal evidence that has come to light in the last 30 years has shown the negative effects of abortion. "We're getting our babies back," a jubilant McCorvey said at a news conference while flanked by about 60 women, some whom sobbed and held signs that read "I regret my abortion." "I feel like the weight of the world has just been lifted off my shoulders." McCorvey's attorney said he could not remember any other historic case in which the plaintiff had asked to have it overturned: "I think the new evidence will show the court what they thought was goodwill turned out to be an instrument of wrong." McCorvey, 55, filed the motion with the federal district court in Dallas, which ruled to legalize abortion in Texas before the Supreme Court ruling. McCorvey is founder and director of Roe No More Ministry.

Canadian Government Assures Churches on Sex-Sex Marriages
Ron Csillag, Religion News Service

The Canadian government moved quickly Tuesday (June 17) to assure churches and religious groups that planned laws allowing for same-sex marriages will not be imposed. "We'll be proposing legislation that will protect the right of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it," Prime Minister Jean Chretien said, after announcing his government will not appeal three recent court rulings that said banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Chretien said Ottawa will rewrite the traditional definition of marriage to allow for same-sex matrimony. If successful, Canada would be the third country in the world to recognize gay marriages. Chretien acknowledged some religious groups and individual Canadians will not agree with the decision. But he said it will balance the need for equality with religious freedoms guaranteed in Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And he stressed that Ottawa would not impose the new law on religious groups, who can still refuse to perform same-sex weddings. Despite the concession to religious groups, the government's decision came as a blow to the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, which had led a coalition of faith groups that vigorously opposed allowing same-sex marriages. Polls have suggested Canadians are almost evenly split on the issue.

Lao Authorities Evict Five Christian Families  
Sarah Carter, Christian Aid Report

Lao provincial authorities ordered five families to leave their home village because they were Christians.  Two of the men are pastors and all five are prominent Christians in their village. They all were charged with causing discord and disorder because they insisted on being Christians in the midst of an animist society. They were told to take their entire families out of the village within ten days (by today) or authorities would not be responsible for what happened to them. They also were told to sign a document saying they were moving of their own accord. Both pastors have been imprisoned for their faith many times. The leader said the cause of their suffering was nothing other than their "persistent faith in God in the midst of a hostile government. They want to worship God and the authorities do not want them to continue in their faith. The result has been hard imprisonment, hunger, pain, suffering, separation from wives and children, and the loss of their homes and belongings." Lao leaders take pride in being able to say there are "no Christians" in their province. At the same time, the government kept telling human rights watchers that there was no official persecution in Laos. 

Muslim Officials Request More Christian Teachers in Indonesia
Sarah Carter, Christian Aid Report

Evangelical leaders in Indonesia were asked to prepare Christian teachers for Indonesian schools. The officials said that there is a shortage of Christianity teachers in the state-run schools. The recently passed National Education System Bill controversially required religion teachers in private schools, as well as state schools. The new law stipulates that these teachers must be of the religion they are teaching. What may seem to be a respectful courtesy for minority students may place a disproportionate burden on Christians. Few Christian families send their children to Muslim-run schools, but many Muslims send their children to Christian schools. Now the Christian schools are obligated to hire Muslim teachers for their Islamic students. The question is: What will happen if a school fails to comply? The hotly debated bill was bipolar. A compromise finally got through, but only with the stipulation that schools that failed to comply would not be penalized. However, with Indonesia's recent history of Islamic jihad and its volatile social and political environment, it is feared that Muslims might themselves decide to "punish" any Christian school that failed to provide Muslim teachers of Islam for its students. If they do, the result could be a serious Muslim-Christian conflagration.