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CULTURE DIGEST: Moore runs for governor; conservatives urge stance against Air Force policy; churches premiere ‘Left Behind’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is making campaign visits throughout the state after announcing he will seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2006, likely setting up a battle between the Ten Commandments defender and incumbent Republican Gov. Bob Riley.

“It is a crucial time to run for office when rights and liberties are being eroded, taxes climb, the education of our children declines and morality erodes while judges tell children they cannot pray,” Moore said at a rally in his hometown of Gadsden, 60 miles northeast of Birmingham Oct. 3, according to Reuters.

“I believe that God is leading me to uphold the laws in Alabama and guide its policies,” Moore said in an interview with the wire service after announcing his candidacy.

Riley is expected to announce soon that he will run for reelection, and observers believe it will be a close race.

“Gov. Riley demonstrated some very good leadership qualities in the recent hurricane disaster,” D’Linell Finley, a political science professor at Auburn University Montgomery, told the Montgomery Advertiser. “Many people were well pleased with the way the governor handled the disaster. That kind of reassured many folks in his party.”

But Moore is counting on evangelical Christians to be loyal to his platform of fighting for religious freedom in America. He was elected to the position of chief justice in 2000, and the following summer he had a 5,280-pound granite monument of the Ten Commandments installed in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building. In 2003, Moore was removed from office for defying a federal court order to remove the monument.

Since then, he has been traveling the country speaking about the Ten Commandments, religious freedom and his book, “So Help Me God” (Broadman & Holman).

Moore supports school prayer and opposes “same-sex marriage.” He pledged to fight against higher taxes, tighten restrictions on illegal immigrants and improve education if elected, according to Reuters.

COALITION URGES PROTEST OF AIR FORCE PRAYER RULES — The Christian Coalition of America is urging people to contact Acting Secretary of the Air Force Pete Geren and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to express disappointment in the Air Force’s recent bid to squelch public prayer.

“It is hard to believe that during the era of a Republican administration and a Republican Congress … the United States Air Force is about to put into effect regulations which discriminate against evangelical Christians at the United States Air Force Academy,” the group said in its Sept. 30 weekly review.

“It is imperative that Christians in America not allow them to do that. With the U.S. Air Force already experiencing recruiting problems, such religious discrimination against evangelical Christians will cause their recruiting problems to grow infinitely worse.”

After complaints of religious harassment surfaced at the Air Force Academy this summer, the Air Force issued guidelines Aug. 29, saying that “public prayer should not usually be included in official settings such as staff meetings, office meetings, classes or officially sanctioned activities such as sports events or practice sessions.” The guidelines are expected to be finalized in November.

“A crucial part of our vision is that the religious diversity we share as Americans is a strength that sets us apart from many other nations,” Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady, Air Force deputy chief of staff for personnel, said upon the release of the guidelines. “In a world where many nations are torn apart by religious strife, we must understand that our ability to stand together — those who represent many religions shoulder-to-shoulder with those who claim no religion — is a great strength.

“Each of us represents the government of the United States and the Air Force,” he said. “Our actions must be consistent with the Constitution we are sworn to protect and defend, and with the Air Force core values. We demand from one another integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Our responsibility to the Constitution requires that we not officially endorse or establish religion — either one specific religion, or the idea of religion over nonreligion — as the only way or the best way to build strength or serve our nation.”

But the Christian Coalition believes the new rules are an “over enforcement.”

“The Air Force’s strict discriminatory regulations against Christians will set a dangerous precedent and lead to erosion of free exercise of speech at the other service academies and indeed all throughout the military services,” the group said.

CHURCHES PLAY MAJOR ROLE IN FILM RELEASE — In an effort to show Hollywood that evangelicals are a vital part of their potential audience, the producers of the latest end times film are enlisting churches instead of movie theaters to premier “Left Behind: World at War” Oct. 21.

“When Left Behind: World at War opens this October it will do so through an entirely new distribution system that will not only challenge fundamental Hollywood rules but also provide churches with an enormous opportunity for outreach into their local communities,” the Christian-themed film company Cloud Ten Pictures said in a statement. “This film will be the first ever to open in churches, not theaters, across the nation.”

The film also will be shown in prisons beginning Nov. 18, Peter Lalonde, CEO of Cloud Ten Pictures, told Baptist Press Oct. 4.

“In the ‘70s and ‘80s, before the days of VHS, 16MM church film nights were one of the greatest ways that churches could introduce non-believers to their church,” Lalonde said in a news release. “We want to revive that outreach.”

That evangelism method is important to Lalonde because it’s the way he was saved in 1983. The point of the church release, he said, is to allow pastors at least 10 minutes after the film is shown to speak directly to the audience about the necessity of a personal relationship with Christ.

“I don’t want people walking out of a theater without those 10 minutes,” he said.

Churches still have time to purchase the license to show the latest Left Behind film and may learn more by visiting www.leftbehind-worldatwar.com/churchtheatricalrelease. In addition, by visiting the website people can locate the nearest church that will be showing the film.

“We have the support of a major studio and the keen interest of every major studio in seeing how this works,” Lalonde said. “If this takes off — and we are convinced it will with the support of pastors, youth pastors and outreach ministries — the studios are telling us they will want to incorporate this entirely new delivery vehicle into their distribution model. But here’s the gem of it all: They will have to start making movies that pastors will play in their churches.”

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  • Erin Curry