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Religion Today Summaries, October 6, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, October 6, 2003

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

  • Conservatives Promote a 'Marriage Protection Week'

  • Poll Show Courts 'Out-of-Sync' with Public

  • Executive Director of Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life Resigns

  • Ministry Spokesman Says Door is Open to Help Iraq's Persecuted Church

Conservatives Promote a 'Marriage Protection Week'
Michelle Gabriel, Religion News Service

Stepping up their opposition to same-sex marriage, 25 conservative groups have proclaimed Oct. 12-18 as "Marriage Protection Week," in which voters will be urged to support legislation favoring traditionally structured families. "Traditional marriage is the stable model for our society," said Andrea Lafferty, executive director of Traditional Values Coalition. "Any attempt to elevate same-sex marriages to that same plane will have grave consequences for our nation."  The rights movement for same-sex couples gained momentum recently on the heels of a landmark Supreme Court decision that decriminalized private, consensual sexual relationships among same-sex partners.  Marriage Protection Week supporters want to "rally churches to this last stand in defense of the institution of marriage," Lafferty said. The campaign will target religious groups and voters across the country through radio broadcasts and public events.  "In a time such as this, we must stand with the truth - calling something a marriage doesn't make it one," she said. 

Poll Shows Courts 'Out-of-Sync' with Public
Agape Press

A pro-family group says a new poll showing overwhelming support for displaying the Ten Commandments on public property is clear evidence of just how far the courts are out of touch with the American people.  The poll found that 70% of Americans approve of placing a Ten Commandments monument in a public school or government building.  "The American public understands what our heritage is.  They don't find it offensive to have God on display in public places," says Pat Trueman of the Family Research Council.  But Trueman tells Family News In Focus that the nation's federal courts and state courts are extremely "out-of-sync" with the American public -- "and [those who make up those courts] are the individuals who are supposed to be interpreting our heritage."  The poll also found 90% support for the words "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency.

Executive Director of Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life Resigns
Adelle Banks, Religion News Service

The executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has announced her resignation.  Melissa Rogers will step down Oct. 10 and has accepted a position as visiting professor of religion and public policy at the Wake Forest University Divinity School. "I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to launch and develop this organization," said Rogers in a statement. "It's been a great three years but I look forward to having the time to research and write again on religious liberty issues and to be part of the debate on these important topics." Rogers will be succeeded in January by Luis Lugo, director of the religion program at the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts, said Heather Morton, communications associate with the forum. Lugo, in a statement, credited Rogers with fostering events that addressed U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the work of the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. The Pew Charitable Trusts plans to continue its funding of the Washington-based forum, which seeks to promote improved understanding of the influence religion has on ideas and institutions in this country and beyond.

Ministry Spokesman Says Door is Open to Help Iraq's Persecuted Church
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A California-based ministry is stepping up its efforts to support Christians in war-torn Iraq. Open Doors With Brother Andrew is a ministry that serves and strengthens the persecuted church around the world. According to ministry workers, the recent overthrow of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has left great devastation in its wake, but it has also created greater religious freedom in that country -- at least for the time being. Open Doors' Jerry Dykstra says Christians must take advantage of the new opportunities. He notes that the present situation is a "strategic moment in Iraq's Church history," when the door truly is open for Christians to reach out to and assist believers in Iraq. The Open Doors spokesman says there are numerous opportunities for Christians to help believers in Iraq, and ministry representatives have visited with pastors and church leaders there to determine specific needs.  Currently Open Doors is aiding 1,500 Christian families, offering medical assistance, distributing emergency food to families facing severe hunger, and providing Iraqi Christians with resources such as study Bibles, training, and discipleship tools. "Also," Dykstra notes, "we're opening a number of Christian resource centers in two key cities in Iraq." The ministry's spokesman points out that Open Doors provides medical aid to Iraqi citizens in need regardless of their faith, which he says creates an evangelistic inroad for the ministry.