Christian Bands Turn Down Movie Role

Most independent rock bands would jump at the chance to appear in a Hollywood movie, especially one produced by R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe. But several Christian musicians in Vancouver turned down just such an opportunity when they were asked to fill in for an American band that backed out of a film at the last minute. The reason they turned the film down? The script, which makes fun of born-again Christians.

Co-written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Brian Dannelly, Saved is a religious satire, set in a Christian high school, about a girl named Mary who becomes pregnant after sleeping with her gay boyfriend in an unsuccessful attempt to make him straight.

The script originally called for the Elms, a Christian band that recently toured with Jars of Clay, to play themselves in a scene at the high school prom; the characters even talk about the Elms in the script. But the Elms backed out of the film a week before the prom scene was going to be shot, and the filmmakers scrambled to find a replacement.

Craig Jager, manager for Venere, said his band turned the film down because of the script's mocking tone. "It's over the top. It brings out a radical type of Christian lifestyle. It really goes overboard with the Christian jargon," he said.

Jager conceded the film could serve as a "wake-up call" to people in the church who are not very forgiving, but he said its satirical depiction of born-again Christians goes too far. "One of the band members said, 'Yeah, the church does have flaws, but they don't need this kind of publicity.' It's not really offering any kind of solutions," he said.

CanadianChristianity.com, December 2, 2002



Scouting's Highest Honor

Renowned motivational speaker, author, businessman, and Southern Baptist church member "Zig" Ziglar received the Silver Buffalo Award in November for distinguished service to youth from the Boy Scouts of America.

"Zig exemplifies all that is good in Scouting," said Chief Scout Executive Roy L. Williams. "We feel fortunate that he has dedicated so much of his life to helping our nation's youth.

The Silver Buffalo Award is presented annually to adults who generously dedicate their time and resources for the benefit of America's youth. This award, Scouting's highest commendation for service to youth, recognizes the invaluable contributions American men and women have made to our nation's young people.

Ziglar, an active member of Prestonwood Baptist Church in the Dallas area, is one of the many noteworthy recipients to receive this award. Since 1925, many well-known individuals, including thirteen U.S. presidents, artist Norman Rockwell, artist and film producer Walt Disney, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund Marian Wright Edleman, and baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, have received the Silver Buffalo Award.

"I enjoy the role I play in helping to mold the future leaders of this country," says Ziglar. "Motivating generations of young people to live up to their potential has truly been a reward, and Scouting aims to do the same."

Ziglar has received countless honors for his programs focusing on motivation, sales, leadership, and personal growth. He received the 1999 Toastmasters International Gavel Award, the 1999 National Speakers Association Master of Influence Award, the 1998 Harry S. Truman Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Community Colleges, the 1991 Communicator of the Year from Sales and Marketing Executives International, and the 1985 Mississippian of the Year from the Mississippi Broadcasting Association.



YWCA—Still Christian?

Even though the initials YWCA stand for the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), a spokeswoman said it's been a "very, very long time" since the organization focused on promoting Christian values.

"Now, the focus is on empowering women and their families," Crystal McNeal, a spokesperson for the YWCA of Greater Milwaukee, Wis., said. That empowerment, she said, includes dispensing birth control bills and condoms to girls and women. Recently, the YWCA of Greater Milwaukee announced it had partnered with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin to open two community-based health clinics. The unique partnership arose out of a shared desire to provide low-income and homeless women with free health services including cancer screening and "family planning."

According to McNeal, family planning services provided by the clinics are limited to dispensing birth control pills and condoms to the walk-in patients. Unlike the vast majority of Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation, she said abortion would not be offered at the two inner-city Milwaukee locations.

McNeal said the YWCA of Milwaukee has never encountered any opposition to its abandonment of its Christian foundation or the family planning programs that have taken its place. "For years, people have known that the focus of the YWCA has been on empowering women," she said. Since the 1960s, the YWCA of the USA has refused to identify itself as a pro-abortion organization, persistently denying such allegations during the group's yearly national conventions. However, according to its statements, the group does support a woman's "right to choose in the matter of abortion based on her own religious and ethical beliefs and her physician's guidance."

CNSNews.com, November 12, 2002



Kinsey: Fact or Fiction?

Production of a feature film chronicling the life of controversial sex researcher Alfred Kinsey is set to begin production in March, according to reports from Variety magazine and USA Today.

Screenwriter Bill Condon, acclaimed for his Oscar-winning screenplay for Gods and Monsters, penned the screenplay for this film detailing Kinsey's life. The film, which will also be directed by Condon, includes such distributors as United Artists and Myriad Pictures, and executive producers from Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope, says Variety.

Set to play Kinsey is noted actor Liam Neeson, who is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Oskar Schindler in the Oscar-winning film, Schindler's List.

Kinsey, a controversial Indiana University sex researcher from the first half of the twentieth century, is often credited with initiating the loosening of sexual mores that resulted in such phenomena as easy access to pornography, the normalization of homosexuality, and an increase in extramarital affairs. According to a Nov. 22 USA Today article on the new Kinsey film, "There probably would be no Playboy or Dr. Ruth without his liberating effects."

Judith Reisman author of Kinsey: Crimes & Consequences, worries that the film may glorify Kinsey and the negative effects he left on American culture.

Reisman said of the production, "I think it's being created to give the impression that Dr. Kinsey was just ahead of his time. That he was bi/homosexual will be defended as a choice that he made and that he was driven underground by an oppressive, repressive society. It will be created to support the pansexual revolution we are in the midst of and to return us to the dark."

Reisman's concern about Condon's upcoming film arises particularly from her understanding that the screenplay is based upon an inaccurate biography of Kinsey written by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy entitled, Sex: The Measure of All Things, The Life of Alfred C. Kinsey. According to Reisman, the Gathorne-Hardy biography was underwritten by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University — an institution whose very survival depends upon the public perceiving Dr. Kinsey in a positive light.

"The Kinsey Institute today would be destroyed if the public really knew who Kinsey was and what he stood for," says Reisman.

Despite the concern of Reisman and other cultural conservatives though, the film's creators remain optimistic about the project.

Condon told USA Today that Kinsey's knack for getting people to speak openly about their sexual practices particularly interests him. Condon says Kinsey had a trick for getting people to speak frankly. "He never asked if they did anything. He would just assume they did. My fantasy trailer would open with someone asking, 'When did you first have sex with animals?'"

Reisman, who will serve this summer as Distinguished Visiting Faculty at Pepperdine University, has often pointed to the detrimental effects Kinsey left on American society. "There's not a human being in the United States of America and in most of the Western world whose life has not been affected negatively by Dr. Alfred Kinsey, even if they do not know who he is," she said. "He has changed all our lives without any question."

Reisman said in a Baptist Press article from 1997, "It was Kinsey's junk 'science' that so-called experts cited to reduce criminal penalties for rape and other sex crimes, to parole violent sex criminals, including murderers, to legalize mailing obscene materials through the mail, to legalize sodomy, and to award child custody to criminal parents.

"We have let the Kinseyites violate our children's innocence and we are reaping the whirlwind," said Reisman.

"When the movies at your neighborhood theater feature total nudity, when your granddaughter tells you she learned about condoms in school today, and when your clergyperson announces your denomination is rethinking its stand on homosexual acts, you are seeing the cold, dead hands of Professor Kinsey at work," she concluded in the 1997 article.



Physician, Illusionist, Evangelist

When Jerry Burgess performs as a professional illusionist, the tricks are faked but his message is real.

Burgess, a physician and pharmacy owner in Whitley City, Ky., has ministered both as a hometown family doctor and as a gospel illusionist on five continents using his talents to draw people to the message of Christ.

"I sense that I have been called to be a literal fulfillment of Paul's exhortation that we must be all things to all men that by all means we might win some," Burgess said in an interview. "We're using all means."

As head of Divine Design Ministries, Burgess has combined evangelistic preaching with illusions such as levitation, hidden coins, and even "nails" through his arm as a means to spread the gospel.

In his messages, Burgess usually performs a few tricks culminating in a final performance at the end of the series.

"Over a year's time, I'll preach four messages for every gospel magic program I do. Yet, I'll see five times more people come to Christ during the magic shows than I'll see come during all the preaching services combined," he said.

Burgess points out his act consists only of sleight-of-hand tricks. He encourages his audience to avoid the occult and demonology.

"I have never had a single believer in Christ who has seen the program have a problem with it," he said. "The fruit this ministry has borne has been changed lives and people brought to Christ."

Since 1984, preaching and gospel magic invitations have led Burgess around the world, including venues in Russia, England, Brazil, Kenya, and Malaysia.

Since 1990, Burgess has performed on network television in thirty-nine countries on five continents and on national television in the United States eighteen times.

Between medical appointments and ministry events, Burgess also has found time to keep up with other gospel illusionists. Since 1983, he has served three times as president of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians. He also is a personal friend of famed magician (and Kentucky native) Lance Burton.

Today, Burgess maintains his Whitley City practice but still thinks about the ministry's future.

"If I had my own way, I would like to go into evangelism full-time. So far, God has made it clear He wants me to be a bi-vocational evangelist," he said, adding the nature of his current ministry allows him to perform where he is needed, sometimes at no cost.



Drug Use Down, Binge Drinking Up

Continuing reports show alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana use among high school students is declining. But parents shouldn't get too comfortable. Experts say the level of substance abuse is still high and remains a national public health problem.

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report finds that binge drinking is way up.

Joe Califano, a former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare who is now head of Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), isn't surprised at the ages involved.

"Alcohol is the number one drug for young people and for adults," Califano said. "There's nothing remotely close to alcohol in terms of underage drug use."

Teens that dabble in illicit drugs before age fifteen are eight times more likely to develop substance abuse problems than those starting later. Califano said parents and faith are the most important positive influences kids can have.

"Spirituality is very important. Kids who believe that religion is an important part of their life, that God is an important part of their life, are much less likely to smoke, drink, and use drugs," he said.

CITIZENLINK, January 9, 2003

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