What to make of the more than 100 missionaries recently deported by China's Communist government in the largest expulsion since 1954? One expert granted anonymity by WORLD so that he will not be kicked out said, "One hundred expulsions is relatively small in the scope of all that is happening in China. Everyone here has hunkered down by curtailing more risky activities until the pressure lessens."
The China Aid Association, based in Midland, Texas, said the removal was a result of "efforts to prevent foreign Christians from engaging in mission activities before the Beijing Olympics next year." WORLD's source in China agreed that "the Olympics is a genuine concern" and said that "starting now to get rid of the possible troublemakers isn't as obvious as if they did it in the days before the Olympics."
He added, "The gospel can't be stopped. It must be frustrating to the officials here when they see that no matter what they do the church keeps showing explosive growth." -Amy Vercher
Psychologists vs. biblical understanding?
Conservative psychologists are gearing up for what they consider an assault by gay-rights activists on counseling they give clients regarding sexuality.
The American Psychological Association (APA) announced last month that it was initiating a review of its 10-year-old policy on counseling gays and lesbians. A task force composed of six members was established to conduct the review, but not one conservative psychologist was granted a seat on it. Nearly 270 individuals responded by sending a letter to the APA asking it to include on the task force psychologists who "respect religious identity and the client's right to construct his life around religious teachings in contrast to sexuality."
The signers include members of the American Association of Christian Counselors and of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality). Signer Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City College psychology professor, said APA policy needs to be clarified in a way that protects religious counselors rather than hampers them: "The policy, as it stands now, is sketchy and inadequate in regards to helping clients bring their behavior in line with their faith." -Joshua King
Dress codes vs. religious rights
Sixteen-year-old Lydia Playfoot will not be able to wear a chastity ring in a British school that bans jewelry. An Anglican spokesman called Playfoot's ring, which represents her commitment to abstain from sex until marriage, "a symbol of the desire to uphold and practice an aspect of the Christian faith"-but Judge Michael Supperstone backed the school's dress code, writing that "whatever the ring is intended to symbolise, it is a piece of jewellery."
A young woman in Valdosta, Ga., also violated a dress code for religious reasons. On June 26 court staffers prohibited Aniisa Karim-wearing a traditional Muslim headscarf-from entering the courtroom to contest a speeding ticket. They cited a city rule prohibiting headwear in court; a Muslim organization protested, but officials defended "rules and procedures that are in place to protect the safety of the court and the public."
Both Playfoot and Karim claim that officials violated their religious rights. M. Zuhdi Jasser, chairman of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, backed both, saying officials cannot judge if people are "using their religious belief as an excuse to wear the jewelry or not. If somebody is saying that this is their personal religious belief, then we need to accept that as their personal religious belief." -Alisa Harris
Abortion vs. girls' right-to-life
India legalized widespread abortion in 1971, but Renuka Chowdhury, India's minister of women and child development, said last month that abortion will now legally occur only when the government believes a "valid and acceptable reason" exists. She left "acceptable" undefined, but rampant sex-selection abortion troubles feminists along with others concerned that, according to recent figures, fewer than 93 girls are born for every 100 boys.
Indians prefer boys who will carry on the family name and care for parents, and females also bring a financial downside: Even though the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 sought to abolish the huge dowries traditionally presented by brides' families to husbands, culture still trumps law. The government also prohibited gender-based abortions in 1994 and clamped down on prenatal sex-determination tests, but many loopholes allow test providers to remain free.
The Times of India reported in June that police in the northern state of Haryana had found half-burned unborn children in a tank at a makeshift "hospital." The man arrested for allegedly providing abortions without a license said that most of the victims were female. The Indian government announced earlier this year plans to build orphanages for baby girls unwanted by their parents. -Amy Vercher
A new federal government study shows the teen birth rate has dropped to 21 per 1,000 women ages 15-17, down from 39 per 1,000 in 1991-without an increase in abortions. During that same period the percentage of high-school students reporting that they have had sexual intercourse dropped from 54 to 47.
Some attribute the birth-rate decline to use of condoms, but abstinence advocate Denny Pattyn said, "Kids are realizing this sex thing has gone too far. I believe God has put this moral code inside of them. When they look at their own life they are searching for something and abstinence is what they've found."
"Educating young people on methods of sexual risk reduction-such as condoms and regular testing-is important and has its place, but the healthiest medical choice is risk avoidance-abstinence," said Gary Rose, president and CEO of the Medical Institute in Austin, Texas. -Julie Ryan
The baseball bar
Who do you sue? In April, a drunken man crashed into a 58-year-old woman at New York's Shea Stadium. She suffered a broken back and is now suing the team and its beer vendor. Last month a 53-year-old man at Yankee Stadium required surgery on a broken vertebra in his neck after another drinker fell on him.
Attorney Joseph A. Ruta, president of the New York City metro chapter of the Christian Legal Society, said he would advise legal action in both cases. Ruta, who specializes in personal injury law, said that New York law makes it illegal to serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, so the team and beer vendor should be held liable.
Ruta explained that the stadium is comparable to a bar or any other venue serving alcohol. Just as a bar owner in New York is held responsible for injuries on his property after alcohol has been served to a clearly inebriated individual, so the team that owns the stadium has broken the law and should be punished accordingly. Bartenders and beer vendors are liable as well. -Allie Cook
Liberalism vs. Israel?
The Conference on the Future of the Jewish People this month reported that Jewish-Americans identify less with Judaism or with Israel than they used to. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, head of the Orthodox organization Toward Tradition, agrees that issues unconnected with Israel have grabbed many Jewish hearts: "If a proverbial genie popped out of a bottle and offered all American Jews eternal peace and prosperity for the state of Israel on the condition that America end Roe v. Wade and eliminate any possibility of homosexual marriage, they would say thanks but no thanks, it's no deal." -Megan Rieger
The writers are all WORLD interns; additional reporting from the Associated Press