week of September 5, 2005
Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard announced last week the
Pineville school has extended the registration deadline to assist
college students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The deadline for the
Louisiana Baptist school has been extended until Sept. 9 for students
affected by the storm. For information, call (318) 487-7259 or (800)
Issuing an apology
Pat Robertson initially defended, then apologized for remarks he made
on national television on Aug. 22, calling for the murder of Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez. The retraction by the conservative Christian
broadcaster came after a day of criticism from political and religious
leaders across the ideological spectrum, including the president of the
Southern Baptist Convention all condemned the comments. During the Aug.
22 broadcast of his Christian Broadcast Network show “The 700 Club,”
Robertson said the time had come for United States officials to
consider assassinating the Venezuelan dictator. “It’s a whole lot
cheaper than starting a war,” Robertson said of killing Chavez. “We
have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we
exercise that ability.” The outcry began immediately. Robertson
initially said he was misinterpreted, saying he simply was referring to
removing Chavez from power. However, a day later, he relented,
apologizing and saying he had spoken in frustration.
Still Southern Baptist
Pastor Rick Warren has responded to previous statements by affirming
that he and his church remain committed to the Southern Baptist
Convention. The author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” Warren said rumors
that he had broken with the national convention are untrue. “I’m
Southern Baptist, our church is Southern Baptist, and we cooperate in
SBC missions support at every level,” he said. In May, Warren appeared
at an event in which he apparently said Saddleback Church in Lake
Forest, Calif., no longer was Baptist. But he later said he
misunderstood the question. When asked if Saddleback was Baptist,
Warren said he thought he was being asked if the church was identified
as Baptist. “I said ‘no’ because we’ve never put Baptist in our name,
…” Warren said. “Any public person who is frequently interviewed will
eventually say something he didn’t mean … out of confusion. But for
25 years, our church has been involved in the SBC at the association,
state, and national level.” Warren cited various partnerships between
his church and Southern Baptists. But he added that he does not agree
with everything Southern Baptists do, such as the decision to leave the
Baptist World Alliance.
Iraqis are scheduled to vote Oct. 15 on a permanent constitution that
many religious minorities find troubling. The proposed constitution was
released in late August. A key issue is the role of Islam in the
nation. The proposed constitution cites Islam as a “basic source of
legislation.” It also decrees that “no law can be passed that
contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.” The document also has
provisions that would allow family-law cases to be settled in Islamic
religious courts – where women have fewer rights – instead of civil
courts. At the same time, the constitution includes a phrase that says
no laws shall be passed that violate the principles of democracy.
Still, observers admit they are unsure how that will be applied.
Several Sunni leaders have vowed to defeat the proposed constitution at
Southern Baptists continue to bring relief aid to famine-ravaged Niger
through an ongoing project in the northwest corner of the country.
After completing a $75,000 food distribution project in the hard-hit
Maradi region, missionaries began another $21,000 hunger relief effort
in August among the Tuareg people in the northwestern town of
Bankilare. A worker described the situation in and around Bankilare as
“extremely critical.” While some already have died, many others suffer
from malnutrition and diarrhea. Everyone in the area is rationing food.
In recent weeks, people in the town have begun eating grass and animal
feed boiled to a paste. Bankilare is not alone in its desperation.
Drought and an invasion of locusts have made Niger’s chronic famine
conditions even worse, threatening an estimated 3 million people with
starvation in the West African nation. For information or to give to
hunger and relief efforts in Niger, call (800) 999-3113, ext. 1736.
Air Force guidelines
The U.S. Air Force has released interim guidelines urging its military
members and civilian employees to protect the free exercise of
religion. The guidelines were called for in a June report that
investigated the religious climate at the Air Force Academy, but they
affect the entire military force. The rules direct leaders to avoid
actions and language that might lead to the impression that they are
officially endorsing or disapproving of individuals’ choices regarding
religion. The guidelines relate to issues such as religious
accommodation, e-mail communication and public prayer. “Public prayer
should not usually be included in official settings such as staff
meetings, office meetings, classes, or officially sanctioned activities
such as sports events or practice sessions,” the guidelines read.
During special, “non-routine” ceremonies, such as changes of command, a
brief nonsectarian prayer is permitted. Final guidelines are expected
to be adopted in the fall.