RNS Daily Digest

c. 2003 Religion News Service Conservative Christians Hail Upholding of Anti-Porn Filters WASHINGTON (RNS) Conservative Christian groups hailed the Supreme Court decision Monday (June 23) that upholds a law requiring public libraries to include anti-pornography filters in their computers. In a 6-3 ruling, the justices upheld the Children’s Internet Protection Act. “Libraries should be safe-zones of quiet and learning for children,” said Family Research Council President Ken Connor. `No filtering software is going to work 100 percent of the time, and when necessary, sites that are mistakenly blocked can be unblocked.

NEWS STORY: Harvard Divinity Student Accused of Smuggling for Church in Russia

c. 2003 Religion News Service MOSCOW _ Andrew Okhotin, a Baptist youth pastor, took the 10-hour flight from New York to Moscow in late March on a quick and joyful mission. He was going to deliver a $48,000 cash gift from American believers to Russian Baptists, visit for a few days with relatives and then return to the United States and his studies at Harvard Divinity School. Nearly three months later, the 28-year-old Okhotin is still in Moscow, has yet to hand over the money, and, if Moscow prosecutors get their way, could spend the next five years in a Russian prison. Russian customs inspectors claim Okhotin is a currency smuggler, who on March 29 deliberately chose the green, “nothing-to-declare” corridor at Moscow’s main international airport, all the while carrying $48,000 in $100 and $50 bills in his beige backpack.

NEWS STORY: Church Conference Urges Lowered Rhetoric, New Negotiation on Korea Crisis

c. 2003 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ As tensions between the Bush administration and North Korea’s Communist regime continue to escalate, church leaders and policy experts called for a lowering of the confrontational rhetoric and stepped-up negotiations to defuse the crisis. “We need to advance a view not of pre-emptive war, but of diplomatic priorities,” said the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches. “If we want to show shock and awe, we need to show love and justice.” During a three-day conference that concluded Wednesday (June 18), church leaders, policy experts and Christian delegations from South Korea called for the U.S. government to reconvene the peace talks, which have remained stagnant since the North Korean administration announced its previously clandestine nuclear program last October. The consultation, sponsored by the NCC and Church World Service, the humanitarian arm of the NCC’s 36 Protestant and Orthodox member denominations, marks the first such meeting since 1997.

NEWS STORY: Baptists End Annual Meeting Pondering Mission Challenge

c. 2003 Religion News Service PHOENIX _ Southern Baptists closed one of their most slimly attended and least-contentious conventions in decades Wednesday (June 18) after focusing on issues they’ve long cared about _ supporting traditional families, opposing homosexuality and sending missionaries. But messengers, as delegates are called, were also told that because of money woes created by a budget shortfall, their foreign mission agency has recently cut jobs and deferred appointments of some missionaries. “How will we give an account to God for our failure to send those who are being called out of our churches for such a time as this?” asked International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin at the close of the two-day meeting at the Phoenix Civic Plaza. As a result of a request by a messenger to the meeting, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee said it will consider whether to ask all Southern Baptist churches to take a one-time special offering in July to help fund those deferred missionaries.

NEWS STORY: Baptist Focus on Family Revives Conservatives View of Role of Women

c. 2003 Religion News Service PHOENIX _ As Southern Baptists devoted time to the family, complete with a “stroller seating” section at their annual meeting here June 17-18, some of their leaders used the family focus to reiterate conservative views on traditional roles of wives and husbands. Throughout the convention and in the pastors’ conference that preceded it, many speakers focused on the differences between men and women in the home. “Gentlemen, we should make no apology for the fact that God has called us to lead in our homes,” Danny Akin, a vice president at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., told the convention Tuesday (June 17). “God made a man to be the provider and the protector, isn’t that right?” asked Adrian Rogers, a prominent Memphis, Tenn.-area pastor, at the conference.

RNS Daily Digest

RNS Daily Digest Southern Baptists Link with `Ex-Gay’ Ministries PHOENIX (RNS) A Southern Baptist task force has formalized the denomination’s interest in working with so-called “ex-gay” ministries by launching an initiative called “The Way Out.” Announced Tuesday (June 17) during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, the initiative is a joint project of two entities of the denomination, LifeWay Christian Resources and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Those agencies have developed Web site resources, including articles, research, Bible studies and links to other ministries that believe people can overcome homosexuality with a Christian approach. “We as Southern Baptists believe that a person can experience … sexual purity in their lives and freedom,” said Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham. “We do not believe that people are captured by a way of life that does not please God.

NEWS STORY: Baptists Adopt Resolution Opposing Gay Partnerships

c. 2003 Religion News Service PHOENIX _ Spurred on by new and proposed laws allowing gay civil unions, Southern Baptists overwhelmingly adopted a resolution Wednesday (June 18) opposing homosexual marriage. “We continue to oppose steadfastly all efforts by any court or state legislature to validate or legalize same-sex marriage or other equivalent unions,” the resolution reads. Baptists, on the second and final day of their annual meeting, also adopted resolutions on AIDS, anti-Semitism and religious liberty. The resolution on same-sex unions criticizes news media, entertainment outlets and public schools for trying to “mainstream homosexual unions in the eyes of our children.” It was adopted a day after leaders of the 16.2 million-member denomination announced a “No Way Out” initiative affirming “ex-gay” ministries and during a meeting that was protested by the pro-gay group Soulforce for the fourth year in a row.