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CULTURE DIGEST: South Korean pastor faces
deportation; Catholic bishops advise on homosexuals; …

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Moon Tak Oh is one of the few pastors in north Texas who leads Sunday services in Korean, and he may be forced to return to South Korea with his wife and three American-born sons if U.S. immigration officials don’t process the necessary paperwork to make him a citizen soon.

Oh, 45, has been in the United States as a legal immigrant for 19 years, during which time he earned an undergraduate degree at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., and a master’s and doctorate at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He has been pastor of Korean-American First Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, for five years. The congregation averages 120 people each Sunday for worship.

“We just don’t understand,” Ann Simmons, a founding member of the 25-year-old church, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He’s been very faithful. He’s been serving the church and all he wants to do is spread the Gospel. He needs to stay.”

Oh filed for an I-360, the document he needs to apply for permanent residence, in March 2004 after being in the U.S. on a student visa and then a religious worker visa that expires Jan. 23. An I-360 usually takes from six months to a couple of years to process, the Star-Telegram said, but Oh has waited nearly three years.

“I understand one year. But more than two and a half years?” Oh told the Star-Telegram. “We’ve been really suffering, especially my wife. She has had so much stress.”

Officials have told Oh that his I-360 application is in the security clearance process, which is mainly handled by the FBI. Though he has a rare name even in South Korea, it could have been flagged for further background checks. Essentially, everyone with any governmental power is telling Oh to wait longer.

CATHOLIC BISHOPS ADVISE ON HOMOSEXUALS — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, during their yearly fall meeting, approved a 26-page statement on the pastoral care of homosexually inclined persons, noting in part that homosexuals should be welcomed in the church but should not receive communion.

The document reiterates the church’s teaching that all homosexual acts are morally wrong, according to the Catholic News Service Nov. 15, and it affirms the dignity of people with homosexual inclinations, adding that inclinations alone are not sinful.

“Because homosexual acts cannot fulfill the natural end of human sexuality they are never morally acceptable,” Bishop Arthur Serratelli, who led the committee that drafted the guidelines, told Reuters. “Such acts furthermore do not lead to true human happiness.”

People who are inclined toward homosexual tendencies, the bishops said, should remain celibate and should not flaunt their sexuality. Also, people who are openly homosexual should not serve as priests or nuns. The guidelines, Reuters said, oppose “gay marriage,” civil unions and adoption by homosexual couples.

A “clear understanding of the place of sexuality within God’s plan for humanity” is needed to address the challenges homosexuality poses today, the statement notes, adding that any sexual expression outside marriage is “disordered.”

“The complementary sexuality of man and woman is a gift from God and ought to be respected as such,” the bishops wrote.

PRESBYTERIAN PUBLISHER BACKS AWAY FROM 9/11 BOOK — The board of directors at the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation is distancing itself from the promotion of a controversial book published by the imprint Westminster John Knox alleging that the Bush administration planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in order to advance their world-domination agenda.

“The conspiracy theory is spurious and based on questionable research,” Kenneth Godshall, chairman of the board, said Nov. 8. “This particular volume is not up to WJK editorial standards and not representative of the PPC publishing program.”

The book, “Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action” by David Ray Griffin, is still available for purchase and is still being promoted by the PPC website.

“The directors obviously heard the widespread outrage at Griffin’s unsupported theories blaming the Bush administration for the atrocities of that awful day,” Alan Wisdom, vice president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, said in a news release Nov. 10. “They must have felt the public embarrassment that this irresponsible book brought upon the entire denomination. Presbyterians can be grateful that the PPC board took action to distance the Presbyterian Church (USA) from the 9/11 conspiracy kooks.

“Let us hope that the PPC editors will learn a lesson and refrain from future dalliances with the loony left,” he added.

What sets Griffin’s book apart from other conspiracy theory books is that it calls on churches to get involved in uncovering the truth about the Bush administration’s plan to expand the “American empire,” The Washington Times noted when the book was released in July.

“My hope is — and my anticipation is — that people across the religious spectrum of Christianity will respond with outrage,” Griffin said earlier. “Not outrage against me, but outrage against what has been done in the name of democracy and the name of a Christian nation.”

    About the Author

  • Erin Roach