Blood Pressure Benefits

Another study has linked good health with religion. The latest shows lower blood pressure among older people of faith.

A Duke University study of 4,000 North Carolinians ages 65 or over found those who participated in religious activities were 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure. High blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease.

According to an Aug. 11, 1998 AP article, study co-author Dr. Harold Koenig suggested the study provides additional evidence of the benefit of religious activity.

"We're becoming more aware that religious beliefs or practices are not negative for a person's health," Koenig said. "In fact, they could be very positive."

Research revealed that older residents who attended religious services at least once a week, and those who read the Bible or prayed regularly had consistently lower diastolic readings. The diastolic reading measures blood pressure when the heart relaxes.

According to the AP article, Dr. Herbert Benson, president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute and associated with Harvard Medical School, said the Duke study presents further evidence "that belief is inexorably connected to body as body is to mind."



Military Porn Sales

The Supreme Court in June let stand a ruling upholding the Military Honor and Decency Act, which banned the sale of pornography in the military. In November 1997, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals declared the law constitutional but stayed its ruling until the Supreme Court decided whether to hear the case. The nation's high court declined, and the appellate court ruling has now settled the issue.

The Military Honor and Decency Act bans the sale of all "sexually explicit material," which Congress defined to include all videos, audio recording, and periodicals "… the dominant theme of which depicts or describes nudity … in a lascivious way." The Act was intended to promote military discipline and order, especially in light of sex scandals and escalating claims of sexual harassment within the military in recent years.



A Master of Theology Degree – Online

Church leaders have the opportunity to participate with Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in the nation's "first accredited on-line master of theology program," according to associate academic dean Michael Martin.

Students who enroll in the unique program will participate in a preparatory seminar at the seminary's Mill Valley, Calif., campus and in two other intensive two-week, on-campus seminars, but most of the degree course work will be conducted over the Internet.

Because seminary officials value the "assurance of quality" provided by the accreditation process, the program was developed in consultation with staff from the Association of Theological Schools, the seminary's primary accrediting body. The result is the only fully accredited on-line master of theology program in North America.

The six core seminars in the on-line program consist of ten-week, on-line study segments followed by an intensive summer seminar on the Mill Valley campus. Additional features include use of the seminary's Online Class System, threaded Internet discussions, and point-to-point chat. There is to be a heavy emphasis on peer-to-peer and student-to- professor contact over the Internet.

Golden Gate is receiving applications now for the online program, with the first on-campus orientation seminar scheduled for Aug. 3-14. Applications completed by Feb. 1, 1999, will receive priority processing. An application may be processed and other necessary forms downloaded on the seminary's web site at www.ggbts.edu.



Chinese Persecution Update

Despite China's pledge to relax worship restrictions, the government has continued to persecute Christians for worshipping outside its officially sanctioned parameters.

According to published reports, in late October Chinese police arrested more than 140 members of underground Protestant churches. As of November 25, Chinese authorities continued to hold more than seventy Protestant leaders in a crackdown on unofficial churches that involved torture, a shooting, and ransom-like fines.

In early October, China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, pledging to respect freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion. Their action raised hopes Beijing would expand liberties the communist government had long curbed.

According to reports from eyewitnesses, Chinese police staged raids upon local house churches and in some cases beat worshippers unconscious.



Child Pornographers Busted

British police struck a blow for decency when they busted an international child-porn ring, arresting about 100 offenders and confiscating more than 100,000 indecent images of children.

Under the code name "Operation Cathedral," in early September British authorities broke a child-porn ring known as Wonderland, raiding thirty-two locations in the United States, and dozens more across Britain, Germany, Italy, Norway, Finland, Austria, France, Sweden, and Portugal. Authorities regard the sting operation as the largest-ever police assault against Internet pedophiles.

Authorities suspect that some of the photographed victims were as young as 2 years old.

Citizen, November 1998



For those inspired by the January Bible Study …

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