The Adventist Review shares the following world news from Religion News Service as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in these reports do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Review or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. -- Editors
Study Says Marijuana is Far More
Harmful Than Cigarettes
arijuana smoking may have a greater potential than tobacco smoking to cause lung cancer, and smoking just one marijuana joint is as harmful to the body as smoking 20 cigarettes, according to a recent study by researchers in New Zealand.
Barrett Duke, vice president of public policy and research for the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the results of the study are "hardly surprising."
"If one burns a substance and inhales the smoke, he is going to increase his risk of lung cancer," Duke said in comments to Baptist Press. "I appreciate the study's recognition that this problem is more acute for those who smoke marijuana.
Marijuana smokers inhale marijuana smoke deeply and hold it in their lungs for as long as possible in order to increase the absorption of the drug. It stands to reason then that marijuana smokers would be at a higher risk of lung cancer."
The study, released in the February issue of the European Respiratory Journal, found that marijuana smoke is qualitatively similar to tobacco smoke but contains up to twice the concentration of cancer-causing polyaromatic hydrocarbons.
"This issue is of major public health importance, due to the prevalent use of cannabis globally and lung cancer being responsible for over a million deaths in the world each year," the journal article states. "With the prevalence and mortality from lung cancer increasing, prevention by risk factor modification is of paramount importance."
Marijuana joints tend to be smoked without filters and to a smaller butt size, the study said, leading to higher concentrations of smoke inhaled. Researchers also noted that marijuana smokers inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer, "facilitating the deposition of the carcinogenic products in the lower respiratory tract."
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Teens at risk as permissive sex yields STD epidemic
BY ERIN ROACH ©2007 Baptist Press
Teenage girls particularly are at risk amid the permissive sex attitudes American culture has propagated for decades, leading to an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, a Southern Baptist physician told Baptist Press.
Don Buckley, a family physician in Pensacola, Fla., said a study released March 11 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "confirms the tragic stories that we in primary care hear virtually every day."
The study found that at least one in four girls between the ages of 14 and 19 nationwide is infected with a sexually transmitted disease, amounting to 3.2 million youth.
Richard Ross, co-founder of the True Love Waits movement, said churches are "getting lazy" in promoting abstinence as the only safe method in preventing the spread of STDs, teen pregnancy and a myriad of challenges that can stem from premature sex.
"Teen sexual activity rose for 20 straight years, from 1973 to 1993," Ross told Baptist Press. "True Love Waits started in 1993. Since then, teen sexual activity has dropped for 14 unbroken years. But in 2008, there has been a slight uptick. If the church is not vigilant, we will go right back where we were."
As evidence that some churches have become lax in their efforts at curbing teen sex, Ross said he has spoken with numerous pastors who have said their churches present the True Love Waits abstinence challenge only once every three or four years.
"We need a red alert to jar pastors and youth ministers out of their complacency," Ross, a professor of student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said. "They think the stats will just continue to drop on their own, and 2008 proves that is not the case.
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Lutherans find no consensus on homosexuality
A long-awaited draft statement by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shies from taking a position on homosexuality, saying the church has yet to reach consensus on the matter.
Current ELCA policies, which bar non-celibate homosexual clergy, are not discussed in the draft released Thursday (March 13).
And while the church "recognizes the historic origin of the term `marriage' as ... between a man and a woman," the statement also notes that some ELCA pastors and congregations support same-sex unions.
"After many years of study and conversation, this church does not have consensus regarding loving and committed same-gender relationships," the statement reads.
Nearly seven years in the making, "Journey Together Faithfully" is intended as a framework for future ELCA debates on sexuality. Compiled by a 15-member committee of bishops, pastors, psychologists, professors and a homemaker, the draft now begins an eight-month comment period within the ELCA, the nation's largest Lutheran body. A second draft will be produced after the comment period.
If approved by a two-thirds majority at the ELCA's Churchwide Assembly next year, the statement will be used to guide church policy for its 4.8 million members.
At last year's Churchwide Assembly, delegates voted to uphold a ban on sexually active gay and lesbian clergy but cautioned bishops against applying the ban too strictly. "Although this church lacks consensus, it encourages all people to live out their faith in the community of the baptized," the draft says. "We call on congregations to welcome, care for and support same-gender-oriented people and their families, and to advocate for their legal protection."
Indiana Voters send Second Muslim to Congress
Indianapolis voters on March 11 chose Andre Carson to fill a seat vacated by his late grandmother, making him the second Muslim ever elected to serve in Congress.
Like Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who in 2006 became the first Muslim elected to Congress, Carson is a black convert to the faith.
The 33-year-old Indiana Democrat was raised Baptist and attended Catholic schools but converted to Islam more than 10 years ago.
Carson called himself a "a proud Hoosier ... I just happen to be a Hoosier of the Muslim faith," according to The Associated Press.
He said his legislative priorities include ending the "useless war" in Iraq, and that he plans to run for a full term in May during his party's primaries.
Carson's election "demonstrates the strength of our political system and the growing positive role of American Muslims in our society," said Corey Saylor, legislative director of the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.