Religion Today Summaries, March 13, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, March 13, 2003

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

  • Senate Passes Ban on Partial Birth Abortion
  • Orthodox Claim Victory in Closing of Gay Nightclub in Russia
  • American Tract Society Hatches Easter Outreach Program
  • New Muslim Advocacy Organization Founded

Senate Passes Ban on Partial Birth Abortion
Susan Jones
(CNS) As expected, the Senate passed a bill banning partial birth abortions Thursday morning, by a vote of 64 to 33. House passage is anticipated this spring, and President Bush has said he will sign the bill into law. Supporters say the bill outlaws a barbaric procedure that is tantamount to infanticide - a baby is partially delivered, stabbed in the head, and then born dead. Opponents say the bill is a Trojan horse - a sneaky move to clamp a wider ban on other types of abortions. Opponents of the bill are promising a court challenge once it becomes law, and supporters say they're ready. Jay Sekulow, ACLJ's chief counsel, said his group will now work to ensure passage of a partial birth abortion ban in the U.S. House of Representatives. And he predicted the measure would end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. In that case, Sekulow said, "We will work aggressively to defend this law in court - a law that is not only necessary, but eminently constitutional as well." In a statement, President Bush called partial-birth abortion "an abhorrent procedure that offends human dignity." He commended the Senate for passing the bill, calling the action "an important step toward building a culture of life in America."

Orthodox Claim Victory in Closing of Gay Nightclub in Russia
Frank Brown

(RNS) With the recent closure of a gay nightclub, Orthodox Christian activists are claiming victory over the "evil ulcer" that operated for just 20 days in Yekaterinburg, Russia's third-largest city. "Our world is soaked in sin, so a 100 percent win is not possible," said Russian Orthodox Abbott Flavian (Matveev) by telephone from his Yekaterinburg monastery. "There will be attempts made to open new clubs. We need to be vigilant." Matveev, other priests and the local Brotherhood of Orthodox Students picketed, collected 3,000 signatures and threatened a hunger strike unless local authorities shut down the Clone nightclub. The activists said Clone promoted a "sinful" gay lifestyle that endangered youth in the city of 1.3 million. The Orthodox campaign, and a modest counter-protest by local gay activists, generated substantial media interest in what is a local election year. In the face of the intense negative publicity, the owners of Clone decided to close the club down rather than risk upsetting local politicians, said Sergei Tonkov, Clone's art director. Tonkov said there are no immediate plans to open another club but added, "There is a big enough demand." Meanwhile, the Orthodox activists will move on to other projects, Matveev said.

American Tract Society Hatches Easter Outreach Program

Churches across the country can have visitors hopping over each other to attend their Easter Sunday service this year, according to Mark Brown, Marketing Director of the American Tract Society, based near Dallas. "ATS has hatched an Easter outreach program for churches of all denominations and sizes," Brown said, "and churches are mobilizing now to canvas their communities with Easter invitation packs ATS can personalize with the church name, address and Easter service times." Easter tract treat packs with Easter story coloring tracts, candy and crayons are a new feature this year, according to Brown. "These treat packs are designed for Easter gifts, Sunday School hand outs and for churches to give to children of visiting families to read and color during the Easter service," Brown said. ATS Church Ministry Division Director Joey Hancock said, "Churches tell us that when families visit at Easter, many prefer that their children sit with them in the service rather than dropping them off at age-level Sunday school classes. We wanted to give churches something for these families and their children," he said. Orders can be placed and e-tracts sent from the ATS website:

New Muslim Advocacy Organization Founded
Holly Lebowitz Rossi

(RNS) Two major American Muslim advocacy organizations have announced they will dissolve to form a new group, the National American Muslim Federation. The NAMF, which will emerge from both the American Muslim Council and the American Muslim Alliance, was agreed upon on March 1 in a "memorandum of understanding." The organization plans to begin work by the end of May. The new organization will combine the functions of the AMA, which works in electoral politics from its San Francisco office, and the Washington-based AMC, which lobbies on various policy initiatives and works with the media on issues important to American Muslims. The NAMF will maintain offices on the two coasts, combining the resources of the AMC and AMA.