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Religion Today Summaries - March 15, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 15, 2005

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

  • Ex-Aide to Cult Leader Jim Jones Seeks Forgiveness for 'Wrongdoing'

  • Mississippi House Passed Bill Allowing Posting Of Religious Documents

  • Ukraine: Christian Orphanage Paves Way for New Childcare Law

  • Ousted Christian Prof Optimistic, Sees God's Hand in His Firing

Ex-Aide to Cult Leader Jim Jones Seeks Forgiveness for 'Wrongdoing'
Charisma News Service

A former top aide to cult leader Jim Jones has asked for forgiveness for his role in events that led to the deaths of more than 900 people in a mass murder-suicide almost 30 years ago. Tim Stoen, Jones' former chief legal adviser and now a Humboldt County, Calif., deputy district attorney, sought redemption in the form of a handwritten apology to the first reporter who publicly exposed bizarre behavior at the Peoples Temple's headquarters in the early 1970s, The Press Democrat reported. "You were right about the Jim Jones and Peoples Temple. I was totally wrong," Stoen wrote in his Feb. 11 letter to former San Francisco Examiner religion reporter Les Kinsolving. "I also pray you can forgive me." Kinsolving, now a Baltimore radio talk show host, said he was stunned to receive Stoen's apology. Jones and 908 followers died at the cult's compound in Jonestown, Guyana on Nov. 18, 1978. "I have asked God to forgive me for my wrongdoing in being a part of Peoples Temple. He has mercifully given me a second chance," wrote Stoen, who publicly disassociated himself from the cult a year before Jonestown. Kinsolving said he decided to publicly release what he described as Stoen's heartfelt letter, largely because he has forgiven Stoen. "I'm a Christian. We have no choice but to forgive," he said. (www.charismanews.com)

Mississippi House Passed Bill Allowing Posting Of Religious Documents
Agape Press

The Mississippi House has overwhelmingly passed a bill allowing the posting of certain religious documents in public buildings.  At least one state senator thinks the measure will fare well in the Senate.  The bill allows the posting of the Ten Commandments, the national motto ("In God We Trust"), and the Beatitudes on all public buildings, if local governing authorities approve.  Leading the cries of opposition is the Mississippi chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which claims it would be unconstitutional.  However, the issue has not even been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently considering cases in Texas and Kentucky.  State Senator Alan Nunnelee says liberals have a knee-jerk reaction to anything Christian.  "I think there's a systematic effort made by the liberal elite in this country to deny any biblical basis for the foundation of our country, and it's just a fact of life that our nation was built on those principles.  We're going to have to continue to fight the left every step of the way on the subject."  Nunnelee believes this bill will pass in the State Senate -- and he thinks Governor Haley Barbour will sign it into law.

Ukraine: Christian Orphanage Paves Way for New Childcare Law
Christian Aid Mission

Father's House Center of Social Care for Children, a Christian home for orphaned and abandoned street children supported by Christian Aid, has had an instrumental role in the passing of a new childcare law in Ukraine. A leader of the children's home describes it as "a family-focused, pro-adoption law that lays a good foundation for Ukraine in general to move from orphanage-type to family-based care for homeless and abandoned children." The law also paves the way for more domestic adoptions, encouraging Ukrainians to open their hearts and homes to needy children. The director of Father's House was even invited to Ukraine's parliament to give a talk on the problem of homeless children, a problem which increased dramatically with the emptying of state-run orphanages after the fall of communism. Father's House was founded as an alternative to government-run orphanages, which were often unable to show personal care and perpetuated the problem of street children as boys and girls fled the facilities. All the work of Father's House, from summer rehabilitation camps to Christmas celebrations for homeless children, is done in the name of Christ and in an atmosphere of His love. The mission of Father's House continues to spread in Ukraine.

Ousted Christian Prof Optimistic, Sees God's Hand in His Firing
Jim Brown, AgapePress

An evangelical Christian professor at the University of Colorado is speaking out after allegedly being fired for his political and religious conservatism. Controversial CU professor Ward Churchill may still have his teaching job, but CU history professor Phil Mitchell will not.  Mitchell was recently told his contract would not be renewed after this school year because his teaching did not meet department standards and because he was proselytizing students in the classroom.  The instructor says he was informed by department head Dr. William Wei, who Mitchell describes as a "wonderful man and a strong supporter." "It was not his decision," the ousted teacher explains.  "It was a decision handed down by 'unnamed persons' in the history department -- [but] I've never learned who they were." According to Mitchell, a CU administrator was offended that he had students read Charles Sheldon's book "In His Steps".  Mitchell makes no apologies for using the Christian book. And Mitchell says he can see God's hand in the situation. Since his firing was made public, Mitchell has received scores of e-mails and phone calls from former and current students showing their appreciation for his work.  Mitchell says when he leaves CU, he hopes to find a teaching job at a Christian college.  As he puts it: "My life is in the Lord's hands, and I am His to use as He wishes."