Battle For The Children

Both charities say all they want is to help needy children, and that they respect the other’s work. But nonsectarian Save the Children is suing evangelical Feed the Children for having a similar-sounding name.

James Bausch, president of Connecticut-based Save the Children, which works in 20 states and 37 other countries, says his donors have been confused. “People don’t know which organization they are giving to,” Bausch told CT.

Evangelist Larry Jones, president of Oklahoma-based Feed the Children,which works in the U.S. and about 30 countries, says there was no intent to play off the other organization. Jones said his group was named in a five-minute brainstorming session in 1981: “We said, ‘We are feeding children, so let’s call the group, ‘Feed the Children,’ ” recounts Jones. “We’re going to end up with ‘feed the attorneys.’ ”

Bausch says the groups’ logos are also confusing. “I’d be very surprised that people are not giving to Larry Jones with the thought they are giving to us,” he says.

Church State
In Court …

A federal judge has ruled that two large crosses situated on mountains near San Diego and the cross blazoned on the insignia of the La Mesa (Calif.) Police Department must all be removed by this month. U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson said the crosses violate the principle of separation of church and state.

• A California appeals court voted 2 to 1 recently that a Downey, California, couple were within their rights to refuse to rent a residence to an unmarried man and woman. The ruling reversed an earlier decision by the California Employment and Fair Housing Commission that went against the landlord couple, John and Agnes Donahue, who are devout Roman Catholics. The Donabues said they would not rent to the man and woman in 1987 because living together out of wedlock went against their “sincerely held religious belief that fornication and its facilitation are sins.” The state is expected to appeal.

• A monument displaying an inscription of the Ten Commandments can remain on the grounds of the Colorado State Capitol, ruled a district judge in December.

New Age
What New Age?

About half of the Americans who are familiar with the New Age movement don’t take its teachings seriously, and a third of them say New Age thought runs counter to Judeo-Christian teaching, says a new poll by the Princeton Religious Research Center.

The poll also shows that the general population’s awareness of the New Age is low, but the number of Americans who adhere to New Age practices is alarmingly high, even among professing Christians. “Manywho consider themselves good Christians nonetheless have engaged in practices that seemingly are counter to the teaching of their church,” the pollsters said.

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Roughly half of all Americans say they believe in extrasensory perception. Thirty percent of Roman Catholics and 22 percent of Protestants say they believe in clairvoyance, while 48 percent of Roman Catholics and 44 percent of Protestants say they believe in psychic healing, the poll shows. The poll indicates that 25 percent of both groups believe the movement of the stars may help govern the affairs of men and women.

Evolution As Theory

The American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), a 50-year-old national organization of evangelical scientists, has for the first time backed teaching evolution as scientific theory, but denounced teaching it as “naturalistic religion.” A statement from the 2,300-member group expressed support for teaching scientific facts that mightimply evolution.

The ASA statement pointed out that recent court rulings have condemned “scientific creationism” but not the “essentially religious doctrine” of evolutionary naturalism. The statement went on to say, “In the current climate of controversy over science teaching in public schools, stretching the term evolution beyond its range of scientific usefulness promotes the establishment of evolutionary naturalism.”

Open Doors For Religious Workers

Foreign-born religious workers will be able to immigrate more easily to the United States as a result of a newly enacted immigration law. The Immigration Act of 1990, which went into effect last December, creates a new “R” visa category for religious workers and ministers that allows religious workers or ministers to work in the United States for up to five years. It also makes it possible for them to obtain a permanent residence visa, or green card.

Under old laws, religious workers had to negotiate a maze of procedures to prove they were involved in a “missionary” capacity. Now they must prove primarily that they have been affiliated at least two years with, and are currently sponsored by, a U.S. not-for-profit organization that is religious or closely affiliated with a religious organization.

Church/state attorneys were initially concerned that the definition of religion in the original rules of the act could have inadvertently excluded many evangelical groups that are not organized in a hierarchical system. However, in an unusual gesture, the Bush administration responded by rewriting the regulations to be more inclusive.

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Michael Strauss, a former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service trial attorney, said he expects a big increase in the number of ministers immigrating to the U.S.

Still, some experts say the law could be a mixed blessing for Christians. For while the new law will make it easier for foreigners to live and work for American Christian organizations, it could also increase the already growing number of Eastern and cultic teachers entering the U.S.

Legal Battle
L.A. Cop Sues City

Los Angeles Assistant Police Chief Robert Vernon will face off with city officials in March when a judge is scheduled to hear a $10 million lawsuit brought by Vernon. An elder in John MacArthur’s Grace Church, Vernon claims he is being victimized by the city because of his religious beliefs. He filed the suit in November after the city council, under pressure by homosexual groups, called for an official investigation of him. Complaints center, in part, on a 1977 talk Vernon gave at Grace Community Church, in which he spoke against homosexuality and urged women to submit to their husbands.

Some city officials, while conceding that Vernon has a right to practice any religion, say he may be trying to impose his views throughout the police department. Vernon says certain city officials are on a “witch hunt.”

Vernon, who directs the city’s force of 8,300 officers, came under fire early last year along with Chief Daryl Gates following the videotaped beating of Rodney King by several Los Angeles officers (CT, April 29, 1991, p. 42). Vernon has also been accused by Operation Rescue leaders of advocating rough methods to remove rescuers in Los Angeles.

People And Events

Briefly Noted

Sued: Donald Wildmon, leader of the American Family Association, by Penthouse magazine, for encouraging people not to buy pornography and to, boycott stores that sell it.

Wildmon will also be featured in a forthcoming article in Playboy. “A person is known by his friends, but also by his enemies. I am thrilled that Playboy has decided to attack me,” Wildmon says. “It is an indication our efforts have been successful.”

Curtailed: Billy Graham’s 1992 crusade schedule.During a regular checkup in December, Graham’s doctors told him that his 1991 schedule had been too busy and advised him to cut back his activities. Graham said he plans to spend more time with his family and working on his memoirs. He plans to lead crusades in Philadelphia, Portland, and the Soviet commonwealth during the year ahead.

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Released: Sexuality documents by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the United Methodist Church (UMC). The 55-page ELCA document questions whether heterosexual relationships offer the only avenue for “healthy” sexual relationships. The United Methodist report was recently referred to the denomination’s national meeting in May in Louisville, Kentucky, after a 24-member panel could not agree on whether homosexuality is sinful. A majority of the panel favored removing language from the church’s Book of Rules saying homosexuality and Christianity are incompatible.

Named: Ron Blue, of Dallas Theological Seminary, as the new president of CAM International.

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