Churches urged to step up efforts to fight practice
Jan 27, 2004
Churches in Europe are being urged to step up efforts against trafficking in women, a problem estimated to affect hundreds of thousands of women every year. “The trafficking of so many women and children is a human rights abuse that shames us all,” said Baroness Sarah Ludford, a member of the European Parliament who spoke in Brussels about a new publication offering guidance on the topic.
General Wesley Clark says he is a Methodist turned Baptist turned Catholic who attends a Presbyterian church. Congressman Richard Gephardt says his religion is “to care about the poor first.” Howard Dean, who has criticized the mixing of religion and politics, now promises to talk about Jesus when he campaigns in the South.
The result was hardly a surprise, noted Salam Al-Marayati, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. A 2004 presidential straw poll conducted at MPAC’s annual convention showed President George W. Bush trailing four Democratic contenders, led by Howard Dean, largely because of the former Vermont governor’s staunch criticism of the war in Iraq.
Pope John Paul II called for generous international aid to “our Iranian brothers and sisters” even as a range of religious relief organizations began to respond to an earthquake that claimed more than 25,000 lives in the ancient city of Bam in southeastern Iran.
President George W. Bush has been awarded the highest honors from the United Methodist Men society for his leadership following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The group inducted Bush, a United Methodist, into the Society of John Wesley Fellows during a meeting in the Oval Office with Gilbert Hanke, national president of the group.
Exactly two years after the sexual abuse scandal erupted in the Catholic Church, 82 percent of local dioceses have implemented reforms intended to protect children from predatory priests, U.S. church leaders said this month.
Catholic Sister Clare Nolan stood before a packed audience at the City Club of Cleveland and asked her audience to think about some numbers: Somewhere between 700,000 and 2 million women and girls are taken beyond their national borders and forced into prostitution each year. One million children are channeled into the sex industry annually, starting as young as six.
Freud’s fetish: Sigmund Freud had an obsession with ancient Egypt. His famous psychoanalytic couch was covered with a large print of Ramses the Great’s temple. Images of Egyptian gods, goddesses and noblemen and fragments of mummy cases were festooned about his office.
New Jersey has become the second state to allow embryonic stem cell research after its governor signed a law that has drawn criticism from religious and ethical groups that oppose abortion. “It is our obligation as a people and as a state to move the frontiers of science forward,” said Gov. James E. McGreevey when he signed the law January 4.
Although mainline Protestants have traditionally voted Republican and their declining numbers have supposedly reduced their impact on elections, a political scientist who has studied church influence in politics says that mainliners will be important “swing voters” in the 2004 national elections.
Continuing to preview his renamed The Passion of the Christ movie to people expected to praise it, actor-producer Mel Gibson got plaudits from Billy Graham, who was moved to tears, and reportedly secured favor from Pope John Paul II.
Following months of fierce debate in France, President Jacques Chirac has called for a law to ban Islamic headscarves and other “conspicuous” religious symbols from schools run by public authorities. A French Protestant leader promptly declared that such a prohibition would not only be hard to enforce but could also strengthen the cause of Islamic extremists.
Retrospective challenge: Joanna Jepson, an Anglican priest in Britain, is legally challenging an abortion that took place in 2001. The fetus, which had a cleft palate, was beyond the legal limit of 24 weeks. However, abortions are allowed in Britain beyond 24 weeks if there is a substantial risk of severe handicap.