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Religion Today Summaries, October 17, 2002

Religion Today Summaries, October 17, 2002

In Today's Edition:

  • Water Rights Fueling Tension Between Israel, Lebanon
  • N. Ireland Ministry Hosts Prayer Demonstration as Power Returns to Westminster
  • Watts Pushes Faith-Based Initiative Bill in Senate
  • Evolution Studies May Soon be Endangered Species in Ohio

Water Rights Fueling Tension Between Israel, Lebanon
Fred Jackson – Agape Press

Anyone who studies the Bible knows that Israel has had many fights with its enemies over sources of water. Now comes word of growing tension over a Lebanese pumping station on the Wazzani River. The river moves through southern Lebanon and eventually joins the Hatzbani River that dumps into the Sea of Galilee, Israel's main source of fresh water.  Lebanon says the new pumping station will help provide water for its 170,000 citizens that live in that southern region. But Israel considers the project a brazen attempt to tamper with its biggest reservoir.  The Sea of Galilee is already at record lows after five years of drought. And some observers believe the dispute is designed to force Israel to choose war -- or allow Lebanon to dictate its water quota.  According to The Washington Times, U.S. officials fear the tension could ignite a conflict that would compromise its attempt to rally Arab support for a war in Iraq. Representatives from the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations have all been in the area in recent weeks attempting to mediate the situation.

N. Ireland Ministry Hosts Prayer Demonstration as Power Returns to Westminster
Michael Ireland - ASSIST News Service

About a dozen members of New Life Ministries Ireland prayed on the steps outside Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly, October 14 as political power returned to the Houses of Parliament in London.  "Today the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended by the British Government. The main reason being that the IRA continue with their threat and actual violence against many within our nation," Rev. Jack McKee told ASSIST News Service.  "Basically, because all the parties that signed up to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 agreed to work within a framework of exclusively peaceful means. Sinn Fein/IRA has not adhered this to. The IRA is still involved in gunrunning, International terrorism, murders and punishment beatings in Northern Ireland. I think it simply means that we return to a form Direct Rule from [the British government] until the local parties can get beyond their present stalemate.”  Rev. McKee went on to say, "I believe that not only have the politicians failed our people, but so too has the church.

Watts Pushes Faith-Based Initiative Bill in Senate

After months of waiting, Rep. J.C. Watts is making a last ditch effort to push the faith-based initiative bill through the Senate.  Unfortunately, that also means weakening the bill and allowing a number of amendments that could disqualify some non-profit organizations from participating.  Before Democrats agree to support the faith-based initiative, they insist that religious groups conform to government hiring requirements.  That includes non-profit organizations that, as a matter of conscience, often decline to hire employees whose lifestyle choices or religion may conflict with the groups' teachings or beliefs.  “While we agree that the bill is an important piece of legislation, capable of helping the community serve more people,” said Ken Conner, President of Family Research Council, “it's imperative that this bill retain hiring protections for faith-based groups.”  Connor added, “These organizations should not have to forfeit First Amendment rights to freedom of religion or freedom of association as a condition of receiving government grants.”

Evolution Studies May Soon be Endangered Species in Ohio
Erin Curry & Art Toalston – Baptist Press

A State Board of Education of Ohio committee has approved a measure to amend the state's science standards to include teaching the debate over evolution.  After months of deliberation, the committee recommended that students in Ohio public schools be able to "describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."  The full 19-member board of education will vote on the proposed science standards in December following additional time of public comment, including a public hearing Nov 12.  The Ohio committee "should be commended for insisting that Ohio students learn about scientific criticisms of evolutionary theory as a part of a good science education," said Stephen A. Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, after the panel's Oct. 14 decision. "Such a policy represents science education at its very best, and it promotes the academic freedom of students and teachers who want to explore the full range of scientific views over evolution."