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September 1997 Issue

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Free speech is the treasured and protected right of every US citizen. As with all rights, it carries the responsibility to use that freedom in ways that do not debase any population segments or diminish the moral standards of our society. In recent years the Walt Disney Corporation, long known as a "family friendly" enterprise, has abandoned the responsible use of this wonderful privilege. Under a corporate umbrella that includes Touchstone, Miramax, Hollywood Pictures, and Hyperion Press, Disney produces material of graphic violent and sexual content (including total frontal nudity). In addition, through their productions, corporate leaders have pushed an agenda that portrays anything but the biblical standards of morality, sexuality, and fidelity.

Acting on a proposed resolution to boycott the vast Disney conglomerate, messengers at the 1996 SBC in New Orleans chose instead to convey their concerns to the Disney Company and closely m...

Is the Southern Baptist Convention's "boycott" of Disney Co. going to work?

That isn't the point.

Media pundits left, right, and center have been largely missing the point when reacting to last June's resolution by the Southern Baptists.

Most of the opinion-mongering has focused on whether boycotting (though the word was not used in the resolution) is such a good idea, whether it could work, whether the Southern Baptists are a bunch of bigots for not turning a blind eye to homosexual lifestyles, whether they're trying to be "holier than thou," etc.

What's most at stake here doesn't concern Disney's economic future. That company has its hands in so many different media kettles that it'll survive easily.

The Southern Baptist Convention, in making the vote, issued a challenge to its members and other evangelicals more than anything else. The challenge was for, as the Metro Peoria Baptist Assoc...

A remarkable 107,000 readers have contacted USA WEEKEND to speak out on the Baptist boycott of Disney. It's the highest reader response in 1997. Most of the votes — 95,279 — were unduplicated calls to 800 numbers. Results of the unscientific poll: A split, with 50.5% not supporting the recent Southern Baptist-led boycott of Disney, while 49.5% do support the boycott. ~ USA WEEKEND news release, July 29, 1997

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For more than fifty years, Disney had a special place in the hearts of families. It said to parents: "You can trust us to provide wholesome entertainment for your children." But the toxins it dumps, on and off camera, are absolutely inimical to the social climate so necessary to the moral health of the next generation. Whether or no...

Southern Baptists' Best Kept Secret

It has often been called the "best kept secret of Southern Baptists." In 1996, nearly 300 Southern Baptist hunger ministries relieved the hungry in fifty-eight countries including the United States. Countless testimonies reveal lives changed by the Gospel as Christ's love was shown through these ministries to peoples' needs.

Southern Baptist hunger ministries do not receive funding through the Cooperative Program or the Lottie Moon or Annie Armstrong Offerings. They are totally dependent upon gifts to the Southern Baptist world hunger fund. Unlike other relief agencies who use a substantial portion of their receipts for salaries and promotion, 100 percent of gifts to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund go directly to feed the hungry. When hunger relief funds arrive at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the Executive Committee, they are fully distributed 80 percent to the International Mission Board and 20 percent to the North American Mission Board...

Legislation designed to lessen religious persecution in foreign countries was introduced in both houses of Congress in May.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R.-Pa., and Rep. Frank Wolf, R.-Va., introduced the Freedom From Religious Persecution Act known as S. 772 in the Senate and H.R. 1685 in the House of Representatives.

Each bill will:

establish a new White House position, director of the Office of Religious Persecution Monitoring, to report on persecution overseas;

provide for sanctions against governments that support or fail to prevent persecution;

improve asylum proceedings for victims of religious persecution.

The legislation also would level immediate sanctions against Sudan, an African country that bill proponents say has one of the worst records on religious persecution. Enslavement of Christian women and children is commonly practiced.

The persecution of Christians, largely in communist and Muslim-dominated countries, has gained increasing a...

Williams had a familiar question when he passed a library computer with pornography on the screen.

"Our tax money funds this?"

The father of four had taken his children to the public library in Medina, Ohio, but didn't expect to see teenagers downloading pictures of group sex.

"Every terminal has access to adult material," he said.

Williams confronted the staff and uncovered a problem affecting many areas of the country: "They don't make any effort to monitor the screen. Kids have total freedom."

According to the U.S. Statistical Abstract, there are 15,893 public libraries in this country. About half have hookups to the Internet.

For years, library policies on decency have varied and, with the Internet, are stretched all the more.

"We started to get nudity on the front and back covers of books," recounted Linda Pesarchick, a former Medina County library clerk. Then titles a...

A computer-wise Arkansan repulsed by obscene material available on the Internet has started a company that blocks access to such matter.

Neil Willis, a 26-year-old Air Force trained technician, founded Alphanet Internet Communications Inc. in 1995 as a web site design company. But in December, Alphanet began providing protected access to the Internet and it already has gotten business from churches, Christian schools, Arkansas' Baptist hospital system, and the largest bank in the state. Twenty percent of its business is from pastors and churches.

Last year, Willis and a friend were browsing the Internet and "we stumbled upon some pornography without even looking for it," he says.

"We were looking for something else," he says. "We didn't know."

Willis was designing home pages in his spare time. His full-time job was as an information services manager for a large insurance firm. But Willis had been praying for several weeks that the Lord would direct him to the work He wanted him to do.

"I went to my Source," says Willis, who named the company Alphanet because God is fir...

Having arrived safely in Loja, Ecuador, after a 12-hour journey, the Spring Break Mission Team from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary wasted no time in finding the school that had been reserved for them to use for eight days of revivals and other evangelism efforts.

Accompanied by Southern Baptist missionary James Smith, the group eagerly walked onto the property, dreaming of the adventures and ministry opportunities ahead of them.

Adventure and ministry began sooner than they thought. Smith barely had entered the facility when the school's caretaker insisted on a bribe before the team could begin using the school. They refused, of course, and simply walked up the street, praying and searching for another location to hold revival services set to begin that evening.

Smith came across a soccer field, found the owner and asked her if the evangelism team could use the field — complete with electricity — to share the gospel of Christ. The woman...

John Paulk still winces when he recalls the anti-homosexual protesters along the parade path of the 1985 "Gay Pride" march in Columbus, Ohio.

Dressed in high heels, white gown, and bleached blonde hair, Paulk was riding in a red Corvette convertible driven by his male lover.

As he approached a bridge, chanting opponents held signs like "God Hates Homosexuals" and "Leviticus 3:5-6" — as if he was reading Leviticus in his spare time, he joked. But the banner that really angered him read, "Love the Sinner, Not the Sin."

He thought, "'I hate you. Who would want to follow a God like that?' I wonder how many people have felt the same thing. Yet, inside this shell of a person was someone who was lonely, depressed and despondent, wondering if this was all life would amount to."

That experience, and the Southern Baptist couple who led him to salvation two years later, convinced Paulk that homosexuals ...

A Parable for Our Time

One day the sons of God came to appear before the omnipotent God of this universe, and Satan came among them.

"What are you doing here?" asked God.

"I have come from walking to and fro throughout all the earth," replied Satan.

"Well then," said the Lord, "You have doubtless considered my servants the Southern Baptists, how they have remained true to Me when all other mainline denominations have lost their moorings. Southern Baptists have kept their knees bowed before Me and their hearts burdened for the lost."

Well, Satan looked exasperated for just a fleeting moment and then posed a question to the Lord, "Do Southern Baptists fear God for nothing? You have taken them when they were the least of all people, despised of men, the offscouring of the earth, butchers and bakers and candlestick makers, and you have made them into one of the great Christian witnesses of all time. Reach out your hand and afflict them...

It appears that for the first time in twenty-five years, the number of sexually active teenagers is decreasing.

According to the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, the percentage of teen girls having sex dropped in 1995 — from a high of 55 percent in 1990 to 50 percent in 1995. The percentage of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 who reported having sex at least once had been rising steadily from 29 percent in 1970 to 47 percent in 1982, and then to 53 percent in 1988, before reaching its high point in 1990.

Additional research sponsored by Health and Human Services' National Institute of Child Health and Human Development indicates a similar trend for teenage males. The percentage of never-married males from age 15 to 19 who have had sexual intercourse declined from 60 percent in 1988 to 55 percent in 1995, reversing a trend measured since 1979.

The surprising trend among teenagers has been attributed, in part, to the effectiveness of the True...

Mormon temple number fifteen is opening in St. Louis, and before its consecration, Gentiles (Baptists, Catholics, etc.) can walk through and see such things as the marriage sealing rooms and baptistries where surrogate Mormons are baptized for the dead. USA TODAY in May gave a whole, free page to the temple (I can't remember the last time the IMB was given a full page in USA TODAY). Atop this multi-million dollar structure is the angel Moroni, the golden revelator of Mormonism, who delivered the Golden Plates of Nephi to Joseph Smith in the first place.

Ho hum!

So what's new in Mormonism? Not much, I guess. We've lost our intrigue with marriage sealing rituals, sacred undergarments, and transmigration of souls. But what is new is the feeling that Mormonism has at last outlived the word "cult" and that to be a Mormon is the feeling that Mormonism is now as acceptable as to be a Buddhist or a Baptist. Why is this such a transgression? Because all cults...

Many believe the basic human fears are fear of falling, fear of abandonment, and fear of loud noises. If, when you were a kid your mother abandoned you by throwing you out a third-story window and you made a loud noise when you hit the ground, I don't think I can help you, but for the rest of you, read on.

A certain amount of fear is a good thing. It's normal. Normal fear directs us to look both ways before crossing the street. Abnormal fear prevents us from crossing the street or to denying our fears and crossing without looking either way.

Facing fear can be difficult but it is necessary. You begin facing your fears by admitting that you are afraid. Kids are more open about their fears than adults. One kid was really afraid of a big storm. His mother came in to comfort him. He said, "Mommy, will you stay in my room tonight?" She said, "No, I have to stay with Daddy." A...

God's Word Prevails

The Cincinnati Reds baseball organization agreed to a financial settlement with Rev. Guy Aubrey as penalty for refusing to allow his religious banner at their baseball games.

The case began on October 17, 1990 when Aubrey of Cleveland, Tenn. attempted to display a "John 3:16" banner during Game Two of the 1990 World Series between the Reds and the Oakland Athletics. Aubrey was escorted out of Riverfront Stadium after being told that his sign violated Major League Baseball policy. However, the U.S. District Court ruled that the Red's policy was vague and overbroad.

The Reds changed their policy to permit only "baseball related" signs in 1993, so Aubrey returned with a ...