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May 25, 2000

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - FW: ReligionToday (1 Article) for Thursday, May 25, 2000
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 08:25:56 -0500

          C U R R E N T N E W S S U M M A R Y
              by the Editors of ReligionToday

May 25, 2000

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ministers may perform same-sex union
services as long as they are not confused with marriage
ceremonies. That was the ruling by the Judicial Commission, the
denomination's highest court, which met in Baltimore May 19-22,
PCUSA News said. The court also ruled that a gay man who has said
he does not intend to remain celibate may become a candidate for
ordination, but not necessarily will be accepted.
...The rulings uphold current church law, which limits the sexual
behavior of church officers, denominational leaders said.
Commonly known as "Amendment B," it requires that ordained church
officers practice fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman,
or chastity in singleness.
...The rulings mean that "those to be ordained or installed to
church office are to practice 'fidelity in marriage and chastity
in singleness.' At the same time, it made clear this standard
does not apply to membership in the church (which is open to all
who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior) or to the various
steps that might lead up to the call to ordained office," said
Clifton Kirkpatrick, leader of the denomination.
...The PC (U.S.A.) "does not support 'gay marriage' or the
blessing of any relationship between two persons of the same
gender that could be considered to be a marriage," he said.
...A third case was deferred until July. It dealt with a
congregation in Burlington, Vt., that ordains gays and lesbians
as church officers despite a constitutional provision that
forbids doing so.

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - IsraelWire items (5/25/00)
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 09:36:57 -0400

Summary of Alexandria conference
(IsraelWire-5/25) At Wednesday's session of the European
Union-Mediterranean basin parliamentary speakers conference in Alexandria,
Egypt, Arab delegates attempted to incorporate an article calling for a
Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of 1948
Palestinian refugees to their homes into the conference's summation.

Speaker of the Knesset MK Avraham Burg strongly objected to the proposal
and countered with a demand to include an article calling for the
establishment of a supervisory system to deepen the democratization in
Mediterranean countries, and for greater respect for human rights in those
same countries.

It was decided in discussions held between Speaker Burg and his
counterparts from Egypt, Tunisia, Italy and Spain that the conference's
summation would not mention the articles demanded by the Arab states, but
would include Israel's request.

Northern area school buses will be protected against gunfire
(IsraelWire-5/25) Buses transporting children to schools in northern area
frontline communities will be armor plated to withstand attacks involving
guns. This in light of the new reality that the new northern border permits
persons to come within meters of Israel, including Hizbullah guerillas who
want to carry out an attack.

As a temporary solution to the problem, eleven school buses from areas
throughout Judea, Samaria & Gaza will be sent to the north on Thursday,
providing the armor plated vehicles until the government has time to
prepare others for the 2000-2001 school year. Students throughout Yesha
communities as well as buses for public transportation are armor plated to
withstand attacks.

Chief of staff calls IDF withdrawal a historic moment
(IsraelWire-5/25) IDF Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Shaul Mofaz on Wednesday
praised the actions of his forces following the accomplished troop
withdrawal, without casualties. Mofaz cautioned the battle was not over,
and the IDF was responsible for providing security under new conditions. He
renewed warnings that any attack into Israel would be met with an
mighty response.

On Wednesday afternoon, Hizbullah members and supporters came to the
border fence, taunting IDF soldiers' only meters away. The soldiers decided
not to challenge the Hizbullah members, carrying weapons, as they begin
dealing with the challenges of protecting Israel's new border fence.

Opposition leader charges IDF's deterrent ability harmed
(IsraelWire-5/25) Speaking to a Likud forum, opposition leader MK Ariel
Sharon on Wednesday charged that the IDF's deterrent capacity has been
badly harmed by the poorly planned unilateral troop withdrawal.

Sharon called the withdrawal a humiliation which he added would have
far-reaching consequences in the future.

"The first glorious victory in 50 years of Arab-Israeli conflict"
(IsraelWire-5/25) Lebanon on Wednesday declared the day a holiday,
following the IDF unilateral troop withdrawal from the security zone of
southern Lebanon.

Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah called the day, "The first glorious
victory in 50 years of Arab - Israeli conflict."

Thousands of Hizbullah members and supporters took part in the mass
jubilation, including 140 detainees who were hours earlier released from
the SLA el-Hiyam Prison. Some were in detention since the late 1980s.

The detainees were greeted with honors and brought before Hizbullah leader
Nasrallah, who greeted them warmly, adding the joy of their release would
only be complete following Israel's releasing of Sheik Obeid and Mustafa

Nasrallah told the participants of the day's events that attacks against
Israel would continue until the IDF evacuates Shebaa, at the base of the
Golan Heights, calling the IDF withdrawal the beginning of Arab triumphs.

Partial withdrawal from Har Dov on Golan Heights
(IsraelWire-5/25) Prime Minister/Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday
ordered the evacuation of the Astra outpost, one of three Israeli positions on
Har Dov, on the foot of Mount Hermon. The move was ordered according to
officials to eliminate claims by Lebanon and Hizbullah that Israel remains on
Lebanese territory, referring to Shebaa, which is claimed by Lebanon. The
Astra-1 and Gladiola outposts remain. Military officials point out that the
Astra-1 outpost, which is of primary strategic importance, remains in Israeli

As recently as Wednesday, Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah stated
the attacks against Israel would continue as long as Israeli continues to
occupy Shebaa. Shebaa was liberated from Syrian, not Lebanon, by Israeli
forces in the June 1967 Six Day War.

In a related matter, it has been learned that Prime Minister Barak has
contacted French President Jacques Chirac regarding Shebaa, indicating he
was contemplating turning over the entire area to Lebanon, to eliminate any
claims by Lebanon and/or Hizbullah against Israel.

US State Department calls upon Syria to leave Lebanon
(IsraelWire-5/25) Officials in the United States Department of State on
Wednesday sent a message to Syria and Lebanon, calling upon Syrian
President Hafez el-Assad to remove all his military forces from Lebanon.

Following the unilateral Israeli troop withdrawal, Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright has called upon Syria to remove its occupying forces
from the area and begin to adopt policies that would contribute to peace
and stability in the region.

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Christians cast adrift in a sea of fear
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 11:40:28 -0500

Christians cast adrift in a sea of fear

TERRIFIED Christians knelt and prayed amid the broken glass of St George's
Greek Orthodox Church in Qlya as armed bands of men waving Islamic guerrilla
movement flags roamed the streets searching for "collaborators".

Most of this Christian village a mile from the Israeli border had foreseen
the dangers and fled as Israel retreated from its south Lebanon "security
zone". Members of the disintegrating South Lebanon Army also flooded into
Israel believing that they faced jail or death if they stayed.

But about 160 men and women who had not bolted - some fighters, some farmers
- took refuge with the Greek and Melkite Catholic bishops in another church
until they could give themselves up to the Lebanese regular army. Men who
were boasting last week that they had bought weapons and were preparing to
defend their land against Hezbollah had vanished, leaving their front doors
open, keys in their cars.

Lebanon's Christians can date their presence in this rugged and beautiful
country from the time of Christ. But for much of their history they have
been on the defensive. They have been particularly isolated since the civil
war ended in 1991 by the surge in power of Muslims inspired by Hezbollah's
resistance to the Israeli occupation. A double sense of paranoia exists
among the Christians of the south: they feel under threat from Muslims, and
from Lebanese who regard them as traitors for collaborating with Israel.
Yesterday the villagers who remained faced these contradictions four-square.

Fewer than a tenth of the 2,500 members of Qlya village stayed behind, said
Nimur al-Homsi, a Greek Orthodox Christian working as a translator for the
UN. "I have always been a civilian so I felt that I had nothing to lose.
There are just a few of us left, the stupid ones, and I am one of them," he
said, nervously watching Hezbollah and Amal militiamen roar past on tanks
abandoned by the SLA.

Close by, an ammunition dump set alight during the final stages of the
Israeli withdrawal continued to explode, sending shrapnel and clouds of
smoke into the air, shaking the walls of St George's.

The explosive blaze, which destroyed two buildings, miraculously injured no
one. There was no evidence that the Israelis deliberately blew up the
ammunition. But for the Christians who believed they did, it represented a
final act of betrayal.

"How could they do this without warning us?" asked a bloodstained Rada
Khouri, 24, who hid with her toddlers in the bathroom while ordnance crashed
around her.

Such wartime accidents were the least of the worries for Christians who
originally numbered about 30,000 in the "security zone" and who made up 30
per cent of the SLA. Yesterday they hid in their homes, peering through
burglar bars, watching silently as Islamic militiamen cavorted dangerously
through their streets. Mr al-Homsi was among the few prepared to speak. "The
Christians are all very afraid," he said. "There is just total chaos,
looting and thieving everywhere and they are powerless to defend themselves.
They are desperate for the Lebanese (government) forces to come here and
restore order. If it carries on like this then most people will leave the
area. They are in mortal fear."

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Teen 'demon eyes' just food-color dye, but doctors say its use could be risky
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 11:51:22 -0500

Teen 'demon eyes' just food-color dye, but doctors say its use could be risky

Wednesday, May 24, 2000

When school nurse Janice Knepley first saw the latest trend in teen eye
fashion, the student's eyes were bright orange, perhaps to mark the windup
of the basketball season at Napoleon High School in northwest Ohio.

In other parts of the country, the look first emerged in the form of red
"demon eyes" for the Halloween season last fall.

Youngsters are achieving eye colors that nature never gave humans by tinting
their contact lenses with food color dyes.

What high school and middle school students see as custom fashion lenses on
the cheap, optometrists view as a dangerous practice that could result in
eye damage and infections.

"Food coloring is fine for food, but it's not necessarily sterile,
especially if it's been on the kitchen shelf a while. It's certainly not FDA
approved as a contact lens solution," said Dr. Robert Davis, a suburban
Chicago optometrist and chairman of the contact lens section of the American
Optometric Association. The association has issued a safety alert about the

While no eye infections have been traced back to the home-tinted lenses,
Davis said the risk is real.

"Any time you're putting something in the lenses that's not an approved
solution, your risk for infection or irritation or allergic reaction
increases," he said. "And I also worry that kids won't stop with food
coloring, but move onto something like RIT (clothes dye) to get the color
they want."

Knepley has been working with Dr. Robert Limbird, an optometrist and school
board member for Napoleon, to spread word about the risks from food dyed
contacts. "I counsel everyone I've seen with royal blue or red or orange
eyes, I guess maybe a dozen since February, and Dr. Limbird has talked to
some parents and kids in his office. Once you tell them they might damage
their eyes so they can't wear contacts anymore, that gets their attention.
None of them want to go back to glasses."

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 12:11:22 -0500


 JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak yesterday declared he had put
"an end to the Lebanese tragedy" - but warned Beirut and Damascus he would
regard any attack across the border as "an act of war." Barak was stung by
criticism of the hurried army retreat from the two-decade-old security zone
in southern Lebanon that left Hezbollah guerrillas on Israel's northern
border - and 6,500 Lebanese militiamen and their families in Israeli refugee
centers. Barak had planned to fulfill his election pledge of retreating
from Lebanon by July 7, but was forced into an emergency evacuation after
his militia allies fled south in panic Monday and Tuesday. The vacuum was
quickly filled by Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim guerrilla group supported by
Syria, which controls much of Lebanon. Despite the months of planning, the
retreat left Hezbollah with large numbers of Israeli trucks, weapons and
equipment that had been given to the militias. But Barak called yesterday
"a happy day." "We carried out our promise. We got our sons back home," he
said in a televised press conference. The security zone was created to
shield northern Israel from terrorist attacks and yesterday Barak said he
would hold Lebanon and Syria responsible for any new attacks. "Firing on
soldiers or civilians within our borders will be considered an act of war
that will require an appropriate response," his Cabinet said in a policy
statement. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright agreed that Syria had
a "special responsibility" to ensure peace. But an official Syrian
newspaper, Tishreen, said it also wants an Israeli army retreat. "There
will be no peace with Israel until it returns the whole of the Golan Heights
... and endorses by words and deeds the Palestinian people's right to their
land," it said. Lebanon's army commander, General Michel Sleiman, said
Lebanon would give no guarantees unless Israel made peace with Syria and
solved the issue of Palestinian refugees. In its retreat, the Israeli army
blew up a stronghold on Mount Hermon - an area the United Nations says
belongs to Syria. Meanwhile, in makeshift refugees centers at hotels and
military bases, the militia members and their families spoke of their
terrified escape from Christian villages now in Hezbollah hands. "If we go
back, they will kill us," said Leila Razek, a mother of six. "I want to
thank Israel for accepting us." But other refugees spoke of being betrayed
by their longtime allies.

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Under a one-column heading deep in the paper,
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 17:03:14 -0500

        Under a one-column heading deep in the paper,
        a noted professor drops a major bombshell
        May 25, 2000

        The size of the headline doesn't necessarily reflect the
significance of the news. The National Post, for instance, lately carried a
story that may well portend a major change in Canadian education. It ran
under a restrained one-column headline at the front of an inside section.
What it said rated far more than this, and what it implied more still.

        The article was by Michael Ruse, a University of Guelph philosophy
professor, called to testify in the American courts in the 1980s against an
Arkansas law requiring that the Genesis story of creation be given equal
school time with Darwinian evolution. Science teachers and the American
Civil Liberties Union successfully attacked the legislation and Prof. Ruse
helped them. He is a philosophical naturalist, holding that what we call
nature is all that can be known to exist. Science, he would say, deals in
observed natural phenomena. Religion, by contrast, deals in belief, a
subjective exercise with each of us in effect formulating our own God.

        However something at that trial disturbed Prof. Ruse. "You don't
play fair," said Duane T. Gish, appearing for the biblical side. "You
evolutionists want to stop the religious people from teaching our views in
schools. But you are just as religious in your way. Christianity tells us
where we came from, where we're going, and what we should do on the way. I
defy you to show any difference with evolution. It too tells you where you
came from, where you are going, and what you should do on the way."

        Prof. Ruse scoffed at this notion, but later came to see it as
essentially true. The position taken by eminent evolutionists like Stephen
J. Gould is not a scientific but a philosophical one. Suppose scientists
were to conclusively discover something beyond nature, affecting nature,
perhaps even bringing it about. Would this be an acceptable scientific
proposition? Evolutionists would say certainly not. Because science, as they
define it, must preclude such a possibility. To qualify as truly scientific,
only phenomena within the natural order may be considered.*

        But why? Why must discussion of the existence of God be forbidden
within the orbit of science? What is the scientific basis of that? As Prof.
Ruse came to realize, there isn't one. This requirement is simply an act of
faith, a dogma. What the evolutionists are therefore propounding is not
science, but a religion, something constitutionally forbidden in American
public schools. Both Canadian and American schools are doing it anyway, with
the zealous support of the liberal media.

        The word for this scientistic (as distinct from scientific) religion
is "naturalism" and it is lucidly explained by Berkeley law professor Philip
E. Johnson in his 1995 book, Reason in the Balance: The Case Against
Scientism (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois). He portrays
naturalism as the unofficial "religion" of modern America, embraced
unexamined by most academics, educators and media commentators. Mr. Johnson
sees it as "the creation myth of the 20th century" which has replaced
Protestant Christianity as the religious assumption underlying the law and
the academy. His book is an attack on naturalism's inadequacies, both as a
philosophy and as a pattern for human conduct. If there is no God, then what
we consider good and how we behave is ultimately subject to no guiding
principle beyond ourselves.

        Prof. Johnson advocates the theory now called "Intelligent Design."
This assumes there is some Mind or Intelligence beyond nature, about which
we know very little through science -- other than the fact that it -- or He
-- must be there.

        Now Prof. Ruse presumably does not subscribe to Intelligent Design.
But he does firmly support the Johnson contention that what is now being
preached in the schools via science textbooks is not science, but a
religion, and his assertion is very important. Since he was called as a
witness on the side of the evolutionists, his article adds great weight to
the case of those who argue that the Darwinian hypothesis should certainly
be taught in the schools -- but as theory, not proven fact, and its
scientific deficiencies should be taught as well, with students encouraged
to argue the issue.

        Finally, it is noteworthy that the Ruse article appeared in the
National Post. We have seen nothing like it in the Globe and Mail, or the
Edmonton Journal, or the Vancouver Sun. Mr. Johnson's book has not been
reviewed by these papers, so far as we know; neither was his earlier book
pointing out the dearth of convincing evidence to support Darwin's theory.
Neither was Michael Behe's work, mentioned in the footnote. Apparently one
must not raise doubts among columnists, editorial writers, professors,
teachers and other pious believers in the creation myth of the 20th century.

                * This is precisely the contention of biology professor
Michael Behe of Pennsylvania. Prof. Behe notes that what Darwin regarded as
"the simple cell," and as the elemental root building block of all biology,
has now been opened. Far from elemental, it turns out to be a thing of such
dazzling complexity and efficiency that it could not possibly have come
about by happenstance as the Darwinists contend.

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Mysteries of the Bible video series
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 18:30:38 -0400

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