October 2007
NEWS OF INTEREST

Dr. D. James Kennedy dead at age 76

The voice of the man known as the “most listened-to Presbyterian minister in the world” is now silent. Dr. D. James Kennedy passed away September 5, 2007.

Kennedy’s retirement from his position as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was announced August 26. He had preached his last sermon from the pulpit of his church on Christmas Eve 2006, then suffered a cardiac arrest four days later and was never able to return to his pastoral duties.

According to the Coral Ridge Ministries Web site, Kennedy became a Christian in 1953 and shortly thereafter felt God’s calling into the ministry.

When he arrived at Coral Ridge in 1959, the church had 45 members. Its impressive growth over the next 15 years made it the fastest growing Presbyterian church in America. Coral Ridge now has a membership of 10,000. Decision magazine named the church one of the “Five Great Churches of North America.”

Before his death, Kennedy’s broadcast messages were televised to an audience of some three million people across the United States and into some 200 nations. In 2005, Kennedy was inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Beyond his leadership at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Kennedy also founded Coral Ridge Ministries, Evangelism Explosion International, Knox Theological Seminary and Westminster Academy.

AFA founder and chairman Don Wildmon said, “Dr. Kennedy was a man that God used in mighty fashion. His passion for the Gospel, for lost souls, and for the spiritual renewal of our nation were unsurpassed. We will all miss him.”

When Kennedy’s retirement was announced, Dr. Frank Wright, a personal friend of Kennedy and president of National Religious Broadcasters, described Kennedy as a man of vision who was committed to the Kingdom of God.

“With his Godly wisdom, his courageous heart, and his consistent example, he has inspired millions to love, follow and serve Jesus Christ,” Wright said in a press release.

archives.onenewsnow.com, 9/5/07; www.djameskennedy.org, 9/5/07

AFA/ACTIVISM
Foundation: Nativity scenes on public property are legal
In 2003, Bruce Barilla was preparing to display a Nativity scene in his West Virginia hometown, but the auto dealer who had previously given a space for it decided against the display. Barilla began praying for an equally prominent location on Main Street.

A local dry cleaners provided just the space Barilla was looking for. It was a simple enough process for Barilla, but having to search for a place to display a Nativity led him to discover that many private citizens encounter problems when they want to display Nativity scenes during the Christmas season, even on private property.

Consequently, Barilla began to research the legalities of Nativity scenes, both on private and on public properties. Since 2003, he has put together a Web site (www.nativityhelp.org) that offers helpful information and encouragement to those who want to see this traditional Christmas symbol prominently displayed during the season.

Barilla discovered that Nativity scenes may be displayed on public property in some instances, for example, when the property is recognized as a public forum. A photo of the one he himself sponsors in a public park is posted on the Web site.

The National Legal Foundation (NLF) has joined Barilla to try to inform mayors, city councils and citizens across the nation regarding the sometimes controversial subject and the often confusing legalities surrounding Nativity scenes in public places.

NLF president Steven W. Fitschen issued an August 6, 2007, memo to mayors and citizens clarifying the issue. Fitschen details the general guidelines that must be followed, then writes, “The law in this area can be complicated, and the NLF will be glad to consult with mayors, council members, individuals and groups free of charge about these matters.”

Barilla’s story, the NLF memo and other helpful information are available at his Web site or by calling him at 304-536-9029. Barilla is also the founder and promoter for America’s Christian Heritage Week (See related article.)

Honor clergy in October
October is Clergy Appreciation Month – a special time set aside to honor pastors and their families for their hard work and dedication.

The Scriptural foundation for setting aside a certain time to express your appreciation to your pastoral staff is found in
1 Timothy 5:17, which says, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”

There are two ways to help pastors and their families feel appreciated. Do something: 1) personally and 2) corporately as the body of Christ. Suggestions can be found in the complimentary Clergy Appreciation Month Planning Guide available online at here. It includes step-by-step instructions, celebration ideas and long-term plans for proper care of pastors.

Clergy Appreciation Month is one way to counteract “the negative erosion in the lives of our spiritual leaders with the positive affirmation they need,” as stated on the Clergy Appreciation Web site.

While Clergy Appreciation is typically observed in October, it can be held anytime of the year that is convenient for the church and the community. The important part is to make sure that congregations express their appreciation to their pastors throughout the year.

www.parsonage.org

EDUCATION
Home education is booming business
The home-school industry generates $650 million in annual sales say experts in the field. And there are between 1.9 and 2.4 million students being schooled at home, according to Dr. Brian Ray, founder of National Home Education Research Institute.

Susan Beatty co-founded Christian Home Educators Association (CHEA) in 1982 after she decided to home-school her junior high school son. CHEA is one of a number of growing organizations founded to meet the needs of home-school families.

Beatty says, “People thought we were a little crazy [in 1982].” Friends and church leaders were surprised that home-schooling was even legal. 

Times have changed and the burgeoning phenomenon – a 7-15% annual increase – reflects a growing dissatisfaction with government-run schools. Parents cite safety, liberal curriculum, lack of moral values and quality of public schools as reasons to educate their children at home. However, for many, religion and faith issues are the main reason.

Home-schooler Mbuyi Khuzadi says Christian parents must not depend on church attendance to offset the liberal indoctrination that occurs in public schools.

Khuzadi is founder of Exploring Home-schooling. The organization’s Web site (www.exploringhomeschooling.com) posts a startling question and answer:Will your children believe in Jesus when they graduate from high school? Home schooled: 94%; Public schooled: 15%.

www.christianexaminer.com, 9/20/07

Penn school ousts Bible, recommends witchcraft book
A Culbertson Elementary School kindergarten assignment in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, was titled “All About Me.” The project allegedly had a twofold purpose – to encourage students to share their personal interests, and to let classmates learn about each other. They could use a favorite toy, stuffed animal, posters, games or books.

When Wesley Busch’s turn came, he asked his mother to read from his favorite book, the Bible. But school officials in the Philadelphia suburb told Mrs. Busch she couldn’t read from the Bible because it would be proselytizing. Instead, a teacher suggested Wesley’s mother read a book about witches and Halloween.

Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has submitted amicus briefs in a suit filed after a U.S. district court sided with the school’s decision to ban the Bible reading.

“The school’s decision to ban religious speech is nothing more than blatant viewpoint discrimination,” said ADF legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Indeed, the Bible reading at issue in this case is Wesley’s speech [not the school’s].” ADF hopes to see the court decision overturned in a higher court.

www.worldnetdaily.com, 8/31/07

MEDIA
Public critical of media
A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center reveals that Americans view U.S. news organizations as biased, inaccurate and uncaring.

Respondents who rely on the Internet as their main source of news, which is approximately 25% of all Americans, gave harsher criticism than those who rely on newspapers and television.

More than two-thirds of Internet users said they feel as if news organizations don’t care about the people on which they report. Fifty-nine percent believe the reporting to be inaccurate while 64% say the organizations are politically biased.

When compared to a similar survey conducted in 1985 by Times Mirror, the Pew survey shows an across the board decline in the public’s view of news media.

“Two decades ago, public attitudes about how news organizations do their job were less negative,” Pew said in a report. “Most people believed that news organizations stood up for America … a majority believed that news organizations got the facts straight.”

According to the Pew Research poll, that no longer appears to be the case.

www.breitbart.com, 8/9/07

Media sexualizes girls, report shows
The American Psychological Association (APA) released a report earlier this year detailing what it calls the “sexualization of girls” and the negative impact this phenomenon is having on youngsters. 

The content and effects of nearly every form of media, including TV, music videos and lyrics, magazines, movies, video games and the Internet, were analyzed. Recent advertising campaigns and product merchandising to young girls were also examined.

The findings yielded somewhat of a “Girls Gone Wild” effect as evident from young girls posting nude pictures of themselves online, allowing boyfriends to photograph them that way and shooting their own porn videos. In other words, the report shows that young girls are bowing to the pressure of sexualization as exacerbated by celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.

“The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development,” said Dr. Eileen L. Zurbriggen, chairwoman of the APA Task Force and associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. 

For example, an over-sexed society could cause young girls to struggle with mental health issues such as emotional problems, eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. It could also hinder girls from developing a healthy sexual self-image. 

www.foxnews.com, 8/8/07

PRO-LIFE
Planned Parenthood sneaks into community
The largest abortion mill in the country has made its way into Aurora, Illinois, under a false name and with an uncertain business plan.

Gemini Office Development, touted as a generic medical center with no tenant, is a 22,000 square-foot, $7.5 million facility scheduled to open September 18.

But thanks to the suspicions of a pro-life construction worker who questioned the installation of bulletproof glass and surgical suites, it is now public knowledge that Gemini was a front company for Planned Parenthood (PP), the world’s largest abortion provided.

“Frankly, I’m surprised we were able to keep it a secret for so long,” said Steve Trombley, president of Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area. “We didn’t want anything to interfere with the opening, …” he admitted in a Chicago Tribune article.

This secret strategy was adopted  by PP after contractors stalled work on a clinic in Austin, Texas, in 2004. So PP officials make no apologies and offer no excuses for “sneaking” into the Aurora community with what has been nicknamed the “Abortion Fortress” and the “Auschwitz of America.”

But PP admitting its deceit did not appease concerned citizens, pro-lifers or future neighbors of the abortion facility. They brought the issue before the city at a public meeting in August where 120 people signed up to speak. The decision to investigate the matter followed, and the city hired Chicago attorney Richard Martens to review the facility’s 2006 process of approval.

In the meantime, pro-lifers have been praying, fasting and holding a 24-hour vigil at the abortion mill. In addition, over 1,300 pro-life proponents protested at the facility one Saturday in August. 

“Clearly, pro-lifers have done a good job over the years to damage PP’s brand,” wrote pro-life leader Jill Stanek in a WorldNetDaily article. “Now Planned Parenthood is hurting its own brand. Its skullduggery may get it what it wants in the short run but will hurt it in the long run, making Americans all the less trustful of it.”

www.worldnetdaily, 8/29/07; www.lifesitenews.com 8/29/07

RELIGION
Thinking of God fuels generosity, positive behavior
Merely thinking about God prompts cooperative actions and generosity according to University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers. Azim Shariff, UBC Ph.D. graduate, and Ara Norenzayan, UBC associate professor, conducted the study between September 2005 and July 2006. They were surprised by the magnitude of the positive results for the religious “prime” in their study.

LifeSiteNews defined a “prime” as an “experimental procedure used by social and cognitive scientists to obtain indicators of social tendencies by implicitly inducing relevant thoughts.” In Shariff and Norezayan’s study, participants were randomly assigned either to the religious prime group or to the control group.

Those in the first group played a word game in which they unscrambled sentences which used religious words such as spirit, divine, God, and sacred. Control group members performed the same task, but with non-spiritual words. 

All participants were then given 10 one-dollar coins and asked to decide how many to keep and how many to share with an anonymous recipient. Of those in the religious prime group, 68% gave away $5 or more to anonymous strangers, compared to 22% from the control group.

“These are compelling findings,” Shariff said, “ … because they draw a causal relationship between religion and acting morally.” The UBC research is the first of its kind in North America.

www.lifesite.net, 8/30/07

Plan observance of America’s Christian Heritage Week
Since 1992, Bruce Barilla has spearheaded the campaign to put America’s Christian Heritage Week (ACHW) on the calendar as a major holiday. The West Virginia man is a quiet activist who continues to promote the event as a way to bring attention to the nation’s Christian roots. Clearly, Barilla is not in it for the money. In fact, his campaign takes a lot out of his own wallet.

“I don’t want anything out of this,” Barilla says. “It’s just that I want to see our nation recognize the truth – we are a nation founded on Christian principles.” He urges others to pursue the same goals by encouraging local and state officials to adopt a resolution designating ACHW.

Barilla’s efforts have had an impact in many states where like-minded citizens have persuaded governors to issue annual proclamations observing ACHW. Most have chosen Thanksgiving week, a date Barilla suggests is appropriate, but others have selected a different date.

His ultimate goal is to see a national proclamation of ACHW. However, he has been highly disappointed in President George W. Bush’s lack of interest. While President Bush has issued 768 proclamations (including Jewish Heritage Week or Month annually from 2001 to 2007), he has refused requests to issue a proclamation regarding our Christian heritage.

Ideas for promoting the observance at all levels are available at www.achw.org. For example, Barilla lists steps to take in urging your governor or mayor to proclaim ACHW and ideas for local events to bring attention to the observance. Also at the Web site, he cites the purposes of ACHW and gives examples of proclamations issued by various government entities. The same  information is available in print by calling Barilla at 304-536-9029.

“This is a simple but effective way to acknowledge that the U.S. was built on a Christian foundation,” Barilla says.