Religion Today Summaries, November 6, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, November 6, 2003

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

  • Texas Educators, Textbook Publishers Wrangle Over Alternatives to Evolution

  • Chinese Christian Sentenced to Two Years in Labor Camp

  • Church Shares Blame for Porn Explosion

  • Mass. Catholic Leaders Say There Is No Change on Partner Benefit

Texas Educators, Textbook Publishers Wrangle Over Alternatives to Evolution
Fred Jackson and Jody Brown, Agape Press

A textbook showdown is set to get under way in Texas on Thursday.  The outcome of the debate could have a major impact on how evolution is taught in schools across the nation. The Texas State Board of Education begins a two-day session on Thursday with 11 textbook publishers.  A final decision is expected on science books the state will use -- and because Texas is the second biggest purchaser of textbooks in the nation, the books sold there are often marketed by publishers nationwide. Religious activists and proponents of alternative science have been lobbying publishers to revise some of the 10th-grade books and to reject others.  They say those that should be rejected contain factual errors on the theory of evolution, a theory that mainstream science considers a cornerstone of modern research and technology. Among those questioning the textbooks are about 60 biologists from around the country who signed a "statement of dissent" about teaching evolution as fact -- and who say both sides of the issue should be taught. At least one publisher, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, reportedly has submitted a textbook change that directs students to "study hypotheses for the origin of life that are alternatives" to those in the book.

Chinese Christian Sentenced to Two Years in Labor Camp
Voice of the Martyrs News

Mr. Zhang Yi-nan, a Chinese house-church writer and historian, has been sentenced to two years of laojiao—“re-education through labor”—by the Re-education Through Labor Commission in Henan Province. He was allowed to see his wife at the gate of the Lu Shan County Detention Center at 10 a.m. Monday morning, then escorted to a police car and driven away to an undisclosed labor camp. Zhang was arrested on September 26 and charged with “subverting the Chinese government and socialist order.” The Commission apparently used Zhang’s personal prayer journal against him, quoting sections like, “We ask the Lord to destroy the strongholds in China.” He also wrote out prayers that God would destroy Atheistic organizations in China. Those words, according to local PSB official Li Hai Tao, constituted “anti-Party, anti-Socialist” writings. All of the evidence was confiscated from Zhang’s house during a search on September 28, the day his wife was also arrested. She has since been released. Zhang’s sentence is set to end on September 25, 2005. In his writing and research, Zhang has met with countless Christians who have been arrested, mistreated and imprisoned by Chinese authorities. “The Lord has prepared him in unique ways to face this persecution,” said a spokesman.

Church Shares Blame for Porn Explosion
Agape Press

A pro-family advocate says the Church must share some of the blame for what he calls the "porn explosion" in contemporary society. Family Research Council consultant and anti-porn activist Pat Trueman says Christians are being inundated by pornography along with the rest of America because "we haven't opened our mouths like we should." According to the pro-family campaigner, the Church has been far too quiet when it comes to stopping porn producers and distributors. "Wherever you go, our side -- Christians -- [are failing to] shout and complain about the fact that our way of life is being impinged on, being harmed, being destroyed by these people pushing the envelope on pornography. And when there is no opposition, the pornography pushers continue to push," he says. Trueman feels that the Church must begin to behave the way liberals do when they are threatened. He urges Christians to start "reacting the way the left reacts" and make as much noise as possible whenever they see the slightest evidence of pornography.

Mass. Catholic Leaders Say There Is No Change on Partner Benefits
Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

Catholic leaders in Massachusetts say the bishop of Worcester did not endorse giving limited domestic partnership benefits to gay couples in recent testimony to state legislators. Bishop Daniel Reilly on Oct. 23 testified against a proposed bill that would allow gay couples to marry legally in the Bay State. The state's Supreme Judicial Court is expected to rule soon on the issue. Reilly said: "If a bill alters marriage's definition or changes the meaning of `spouse,' we cannot support it. If the goal is to look at individual benefits and determine who should be eligible beyond spouses, then we will join the discussion." Those benefits would include issues such as hospital visitation rights, survivors benefits, custody and education for gay and straight couples. Those benefits could presumably be granted without changing the legal definition of heterosexual marriage. The Massachusetts Catholic Conference issued a bulletin titled "Don't Believe the Headlines" that said Reilly was not endorsing legal rights for unmarried couples, gay or otherwise. "Many press reports interpreted this as a signal of new support for same-sex relationships and `domestic partnership benefits.' That interpretation is wrong," the update said. The state conference said "not all relationships deserve public endorsement" by granting legal benefits or marriage-like rights. "Domestic partnership bills would recognize homosexual relationships for the purpose of extending various socioeconomic benefits. The church opposes this recognition," the statement said.