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
Alleged Child Sex Tourists Arrested
he prosecution of three child sex tourists arrested in Cambodia demonstrates the benefit internationally of a six-year-old federal law, a Southern Baptist public policy leader says.
Officials returned the men Aug. 31 to Los Angeles, where they were charged in federal court with violating a 2003 law focused on preventing the exploitation and abduction of children. The Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act includes a provision calling for as much as a 30-year prison sentence for convicted operators and patrons of child sex tours overseas.
Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), applauded news of the law's effect. "I'm gratified that this law, which the ERLC strongly supported in the Congress, is now being used to remove these degenerate predators from the public population," Land told Baptist Press.
"No longer can these sexual deviants seek to escape the law by raping foreign children rather than American children," Land said. "Wherever they go, the long arm of federal law will reach out and grab them and put a stop to their rape of defenseless children."
Cambodia is a popular destination for sex tourists who travel overseas for illicit encounters with children. The defendants are the first to be charged as a result of an international effort known as Operation Twisted Traveler. The program, which began in February, is an initiative of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Justice that targets sex tourists traveling to Cambodia.
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Canadian Churches Weigh in on U.S. Health Care Reform
A Canadian group of churches has waded into the U.S. debate on health care reform, telling their American counterparts that health care is a "moral enterprise" with deep roots in the Bible.
The letter, written by the Rev. Karen Hamilton, general secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches, provides a history of Canadian churches' advocacy for health coverage and explains the rationale for a universal health care system.
While some denominational groups in the U.S.—including Methodists, Presbyterians, Reform Jews and the United Church of Christ--have endorsed a Democratic bill to expand Medicare to cover all Americans, conservative Christian groups warn that a revamped health care system would encourage end-of-life euthanasia and provide taxpayer-funded abortions.
Hamilton sent the three-page letter to the New York-based National Council of Churches, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Association of Evangelicals.
In the letter, Hamilton notes that before 1966, Canada's health care system failed to provide medical insurance to more than 30 percent of the population. The inequity, she said, created ethical problems for those who believed St. Paul's words, "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it."
The churches lobbied for health care for all during the Canadian health care debates of the 1960s. "We rejected a structure that would force thousands into bankruptcy due to unforeseen medical expenses, would promote different levels of service in the many disparate regions of this vast land or would end health insurance for those who found themselves unemployed."
Canada's largest ecumenical body, the Canadian Council of Churches represents 22 churches of Anglican, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions.
Christian Leaders Made Frequent White House Visits
to Bush, Report Says
Key conservative Christian leaders made dozens of visits to the White House during President George W. Bush's administration, a watchdog group announced.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) had sought the records for years. "Newly disclosed Bush-era White House visitor records suggest leading conservative Christian leaders may have had a significant voice in President Bush's administration, and many seem to have had the ear of the president himself," CREW said in a September 4 news release.
James Dobson, founder of the Colorado-based ministry Focus on the Family, visited the White House 24 times, including 10 visits with President Bush. Tony Perkins, president of the Washington-based Family Research Council, visited 14 times, including two visits with Bush.
Evangelical women leaders, too, had political clout. Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Washington-based Traditional Values Coalition, made 50 White House visits, including six with the president.
Wendy Wright, president of Washington-based Concerned Women for America, made the second-highest number of visits--43--including four with Bush.
Other well-known conservative religious leaders who visited Bush and others at the White House included the late Rev. Jerry Falwell and the late Paul Weyrich, founder of the Free Congress Foundation.
CREW requested the visitor records of a total of nine Christian conservative leaders. The others were Gary Bauer, president of American Values; Louis Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition; and Donald Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association.
Children of Reformed Church Clergy Must Attend Church Schools
Clergy and members of congregations' governing bodies in the Protestant Reformed Churches of America must send their children to denomination-affiliated schools, church leaders have decided.
That was the consensus at the PRCA's annual synod, which wrapped up in late August at Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Michigan. The decision affects more than 300 office holders in the denomination's 30 congregations.
While congregation members are encouraged to send their children to Christian schools, they aren't required to do so. Synod Clerk Don Doezema said the vote of the 20 delegates overwhelmingly favored requiring denomination-affiliated schools for children of clergy and office holders.
The issue has been under consideration since 2007, when a Grand Rapids pastor was fired after his congregation became divided over his children being homeschooled. "The issue was: Can a member ... believably promote the schools if he chooses not to send his children there?" Doezema said.
The synod's decision notes that elders are in a different category than congregation members because they are supposed to promote denominational schools "by word and by example."
The PRCA formed in 1924 by breaking off from the Christian Reformed Church. It represents 7,630 members with 14 churches comprising just under 5,000 members in the Grand Rapids, Holland and Kalamazoo areas of
The denomination is affiliated with 15 schools, including four elementary schools, one high school and one theological school in the Grand Rapids area.