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
Archbishop Condemns Proposal
to Sterilize the Poor
oman Catholic Archbishop Alfred Hughes has denounced a lawmaker's proposal to pay poor people to undergo sterilization as "an egregious affront to those targeted, and blatantly anti-life."
"Our lawmakers would do better to focus on policies that promote education and achievement to counteract poverty and the bigotry of low expectations," Hughes said in a statement on September 25.
Hughes spoke out in response to a proposal by state Rep. John Labruzzo, a Republican from suburban Metairie (Louisiana, U.S.A.), to combat poverty by offering poor women and men $1,000 to undergo reproductive sterilization and vasectomies. In addition, the lawmaker said he is considering whether to propose tax incentives for college-educated people to have more children.
Hughes appears to be the first major local clergyman to take a public stand on the issue, which Labruzzo broached Tuesday. Archdiocesan spokeswoman Sarah Comiskey said the Catholic Church would oppose Labruzzo's plan in Baton Rouge if he turns it into legislation.
Hughes based his opposition on two elements of Labruzzo's proposal: the technique of direct sterilization and the underlying purpose of manipulating the birth rate to reduce certain populations as a matter of public policy.
Catholic teaching holds that tubal ligation and vasectomy are wrong, because they rob sexuality of one of its main purposes, the transmission of life. More broadly, the plan "would also constitute a form of eugenics that the church and this country have always condemned," Hughes said.
Orthodox Rabbis to Draft Standards on Ethical Kosher Products
As the Conservative and Reform Jewish movements work to create a seal of approval for labor practices at kosher food companies, a group of Orthodox rabbis has decided to draft their own guidelines for workplace standards.
The Rabbinical Council of America, the New York-based governing body of Orthodox rabbis, has charged a task force of a dozen business ethicists and experts with coming out with the guide by January.
In contrast to the Conservative movement's Hekhsher Tzedek initiative, which plans to create a supplemental seal to certify kosher foods as produced through fair wages and ethical working conditions, the Orthodox guide will only expect companies to comply with existing
The guide will also provide a list of Jewish principles companies can voluntarily adopt "as a matter of corporate social responsibility," said Rabbi Basil Herring, RCA executive vice president.
"We believe that for the most part, the kosher food industry conforms to the rules and regulations, but unfortunately there have been reported cases where at least it has been alleged that there have been violations, and we want to do whatever we can to ensure that there is compliance to the extent that we possibly can," he said.
In Iowa, the giant Agriprocessors meatpacking plant was recently charged with thousands of child labor violations, prompting some Jews to boycott its products. Under the Orthodox proposal, Herring said, the company would be innocent until proven guilty.
Rabbi Morris Allen, head of the Hekhsher Tzedek initiative, said the news showed the Orthodox movement had begun to recognize the importance of ensuring that certified foods are ethically as well as ritually kosher.
But with 3,000 companies with factories in 80 countries currently receiving kosher certifications, it's impractical to make rabbis responsible for workplace standards, Herring said. The RCA guide will help by requiring that companies obey existing laws at a minimum, if they want to keep their kosher certifications.
"It puts companies on notice that they have to make a commitment to be good citizens," Herring said. "They know that having a kosher supervision approval means they have additional incentive to do the right thing and to obey the law as a matter of corporate policy."
Watchdog Group Files `Pulpit Freedom Sunday'
Complaints With IRS
A Washington-based watchdog group has filed six complaints with the Internal Revenue Service after dozens of clergy participated in a challenge to rules that ban politicking from the pulpit.
At least 31 pastors took part in "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" (Sept. 28), according to the initiative's organizers at the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian law firm based in Arizona.
"These pastors flagrantly violated the law and now must deal with the consequences," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Gary McCaleb, senior counsel with ADF, said: "It's not a matter of separation of church and state when you've got the IRS in the pew. That's oppression of free speech."
McCaleb said 31 pastors who agreed to participate in the plan preached on Sunday. The ADF has asked the pastors, most of whom are evangelical, to send their sermons to the law firm, which plans a court challenge of the IRS rules against partisan politicking by tax exempt organizations.
Asked if all the participating pastors had endorsed a candidate for president, McCaleb said, "I think some had a pretty direct statement." He said the goal was to find a group of pastors who supported an "exercise of faith" that could lead to a Supreme Court case.
Americans United's complaints were filed against: Calvary Chapel on the King's Highway, Philadelphia; Bethlehem First Baptist Church, Bethlehem, Georgia; Fairview Baptist Church, Edmond, Oklahoma; Warroad Community Church, Warroad, Minnesota; New Life Church in West Bend, Wisconsin, and First Southern Baptist Church, Buena Park, California.