Commentary & News Briefs
June 15, 2006
Compiled by Jenni Parker

...The first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop says his church's General Convention should not heed a request from Anglicans abroad to stop electing homosexual bishops for now. New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson says he and other Episcopal leaders meeting in Columbus, Ohio, should reject a proposed moratorium and seek to do what God wants, regardless of "what the Anglican Communion will or will not do in response." The 2003 election of Robinson, who lives with his homosexual partner, has caused divisions with conservative Episcopalians and with other Anglican churches. Bishop Robinson told reporters he believes "gay rights" are consistent with Episcopal and Christian values and that, in the Episcopal Church, "Jesus is the agenda, the homosexual agenda -- I believe that with my whole heart." Rev. Susan Russell, who heads an Episcopal homosexual rights group, said that if the church breaks up it will be the fault of conservatives who leave, because homosexuals are "not going anywhere." [AP]

...A Vatican cardinal has warned the Church of England that any move to consecrate women as bishops would make it impossible for their churches to fully reunify. Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, made the remarks at a private meeting of Church of England bishops, who are exploring the possibility of consecrating women bishops. Three Anglican provinces, including the U.S. Episcopal Church, already consecrate women bishops. The 77 million-member Anglican Communion, a loose association of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England, has been engaged in ecumenical talks with the Vatican for decades. But Kasper said that if the Church of England ordains women bishops, the goal of restoring full relations "would realistically no longer exist." Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the communion's leader, thanked Kasper for his honesty. [AP]

...While it has certainly been an effective tool for spreading the gospel, there's no way it can be passed off as real cash. That's the reaction of a Christian attorney whose legal group is intervening in the case of implied federal counterfeiting violations by a ministry whose "Million Dollar" gospel tracts were seized by the U.S. Secret Service earlier this month. When agents visited the Denton, Texas, offices of Great News Network (GNN) on June 2, they left with more than 8,000 of the tracts in hand -- that, after a report out of North Carolina that someone had attempted to deposit one of the tracts, bearing GNN's address, into their bank account. And now, after a wheelchair-bound man in Las Vegas has apparently had his Million Dollar tracts seized by the Secret Service, the Center for Law & Policy (CLP) in Mississippi has asked a federal judge in Dallas to issue an injunction against the Service to stop the agency from continuing to confiscate the tracts. Brian Fahling, senior trial attorney for the CLP, says the tracts clearly do not violate any laws. The attorney adds that he is "dismayed at the lack of judgment exercised by the Secret Service in this matter." Aside from the fact there is no such thing as a million-dollar bill, the front of the tract says "This bill is not legal tender," as well as the phrases "Thou Shalt Not Steal" and "Department of Eternal Affairs." The publisher of the Million Dollar tracts -- Living Waters Ministries -- reports sales of the tracts have skyrocketed since the controversy erupted. That ministry also reported plans to reprint a newer version of the tract more in line with the requirements of the Secret Service. Living Waters says more than five million of the tracts have been sold since they were introduced in 2002. [Jody Brown]

...The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has submitted a friend of the court brief on behalf of 22 members of Congress asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to stay a federal court decision ordering the removal of the Mount Soledad cross in San Diego, California. The cross has been part of a war memorial on that site for more than 50 years. The ACLJ brief argues that the district court failed to properly consider a remedy put forth by San Diego, a proposal to transfer the cross and the memorial from the city to the federal government. Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the ACLJ, says removal of the cross before the legal appeals are concluded would be not only troubling but legally flawed and "an insult to the men and women who gave their lives to defend our freedoms." Besides, the attorney contends, a workable solution is being ignored as the district court has refused to give that option -- transfer of the cross to federal hands -- proper consideration and instead ordered it removed. "We're hopeful the appeals court will step in and halt the removal while the appeal moves forward," Sekulow says. [Jenni Parker]

...A late-night TV show that is soon to premiere on a major cable network is featuring a man touted as "the Dr. Phil of prayer" and "the next big thing in religious media." Bill Keller, a businessman and ex-convict turned preacher, hosts a Florida-based television program that currently pulls in a quarter million viewers a night on major secular network affiliates throughout the state. But on July 3, his show -- LivePrayer with Bill Keller -- will debut on the i TV network (formerly PAX) and is expected to draw at least a million viewers. Keller launched LivePrayer in 2003 as an outgrowth of his online outreach, LivePrayer.com. The show's format involves the host offering prayer and advice to callers and spiritual exhortation to his audience. "We're not your typical Christian television program," Keller points out. "Our only guests are the viewers who call in. And we don't beg for money or sell anything. LivePrayer isn't about hustling people -- it's about helping them in their time of need." The show's creator says he and his team have done their homework and are convinced LivePrayer will, upon its i TV debut, attract a massive audience. "We want to be where the lonely, the rejected, and the marginalized people congregate," Keller observes. "By and large they are not heading to the church. But our research shows you'll find them channel surfing on TV late at night." LivePrayer will air nightly on the i TV network, Monday through Friday from midnight to 1:00 a.m. (Eastern) and 11 p.m. to midnight Central and Mountain. [Jenni Parker]

...One of the key opponents of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) says he is not surprised that the three countries involved -- Mexico, the U.S., and Canada -- have apparently signed an agreement to expand its impact. The agreement is called the Security and Prosperity Partnership and was signed into effect in March 2005, without the approval of Congress. This agreement has created 20 multi-national working groups in various fields for the three nations. NAFTA critic Pat Buchanan says this has been the goal of Mexico's leaders for a long time, "an end to the borders between us and wide-open trade, travel and tourism, people going back and forth, and basically creating a North American community, which would then be merged with the European Union into sort of this new world order that's been on everybody's minds." And, he asserts, the Bush administration has been helping that idea along, with the president refusing to secure the border or to enforce the law. Buchanan says this agreement demonstrates what he has contended all along, "that the NAFTA deal was the beginning of the end of American sovereignty and the diminution of American sovereignty." According to Buchanan, the ultimate goal of these measures, which he insists has been "pretty much stated by a lot of Mexican leaders," is the merger of the United States of America with Mexico. [Bill Fancher]

...An activist dedicated to exposing the threat of Communist China says the Bush administration should not allow that government to play any role in the multi-national talks on dealing with the Iranian nuclear crisis. B.J. McGuire, president of the China Support Network and the China E-Lobby, feels the U.S. should not reward the Beijing regime for years of bad behavior with regard to Iran. He says the Chinese were instrumental in giving the Iranians more time by suggesting multi-national talks, and it was Communist China that helped create this crisis in the first place. "Without Communist China," McGuire contends, "Iran wouldn't be anywhere near as close to being a nuclear weapons power as they are today. We now know that the uranium that Iran has been enriching recently was uranium that was sold to them by Communist China in 1991." The China Support Network spokesman believes the Bush administration needs to acknowledge this Communist regime for the enemy it is. "If this administration recognized that Communist China has been our enemy in the second cold war for 17 years, they would connect the dots between Communist China and Iran and recognize that we do not want the Communist Chinese Party anywhere near the negotiating table," he says. "In fact, we should not want there to be a negotiating table at all." Instead of encouraging China's involvement in addressing the Iranian nuclear threat, McGuire insists, the U.S. should be working with the Iranian people "to take their country back from the Communist-backed mullahcracy." [Chad Groening]

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