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Southern Baptists weigh cutting cooperative program

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A proposal goes before the Southern Baptist executive committee next week to cut the denomination's support of an inter-Baptist religious liberty lobby in Washington from $391,769 a year to $50,000. Dominant fundamentalists in the 14.8-million-member denomination have long sought to curtail participation in the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, which also serves eight other Baptist denominations. The subcommittee's proposal, if it gained approval by the Southern Baptist Convention in June, would shift most of the financing to a separate denominational agency. In Washington, the Rev. James M. Dunn, executive director of the joint committee, called the move irresponsible, saying such efforts had been rejected by five recent annual conventions. "It is highly questionable whether Southern Baptists will suddenly and precipitously reverse themselves on what has been a united Baptist witness in Washington over the past 53 years." Baptist church rebuffs pro-choice legislator SALEM, N.H. - A state legislator in New Hampshire who describes herself as a conservative Republican and a born-again Christian has been refused membership in an American Baptist congregation because of her pro-choice stand on abortion. Rep. Stephanie Micklon was recently refused membership in the First Baptist Church of Salem, the church in which she grew up and was baptized, because she has sponsored a bill to allow abortions at a woman's discretion until the 25th week of pregnancy. In a Jan. 26 letter that was hand-delivered to Ms. Micklon's home, the pastors and deacons of the congregation said, "We

are not questioning your relationship to Christ or your salvation.

However, we believe that your outspoken public position in regard to abortion brings disgrace on Jesus' name and on what First Baptist Church stands for. We sincerely pray that you might reconsider your position as you carefully examine the Scriptures." Ms. Micklon said that she rejected the suggestion made in the letter. "If I had prayerfully recanted my views, then every single elected official in the country would be subjected to this kind of religious blackmail," she said.

Environmental coloration Is the "green movement" too white? The Rev. Benjamin Chavis Jr., director of the United Church of Christ's Commission for Racial Justice, thinks it is. He has contacted leaders of national environmental groups and called for an emergency summit meeting on allegations of racism in those groups. Environmental leaders of eight major organizations, including the Sierra Club and the National Audubon Society, were charged by Chavis and other members of minority and civil rights groups with racism in their hiring practices. The

environmental movement is isolated from the chief victims of pollution, members of minority groups and the poor, they claim. In recent news reports, environmental leaders acknowledged a poor minority hiring record but denied that racism is the cause. They said they have aggressive recruiting campaigns already in place and that minority members are primarily interested in other causes.

World Day of Prayer March 2 Women from 170 countries will gather in groups around the world March 2 to celebrate the 103rd annual World Day of Prayer. As part of the observance, women of faith come together in a common worship service, praying the same prayers for peace and justice. This year 14 women in Czechoslovakia wrote the servicearound the theme, "A Better Tomorrow: Justice for All." World Day of Prayer resources have been sent to 6,000 communities and churches participating in the celebration. The day is sponsored, as it has been since 1941, by Church Women United, a national ecumenical group of Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox women based in New York. The organization is an advocate of peace and justice issues, such as the elimination of poverty among women and children.

Racial, religion issue trial set ST. PAUL, Minn. - A judge has ruled that a man here who was fired from his job for mailing thousands of anonymous letters espousing racial and religious purity is entitled to a trial on his claim that he was dismissed illegally because of his religious beliefs. Ramsey County District Judge Otis Godfrey denied a motion by West Publishing Co., St. Paul, to throw out the wrongful-discharge suit filed by Elroy Stock. The judge said the former head cashier is entitled to argue in court that his firing violated West's affirmative action policy. The 1983 policy states, in part, that West employees will be hired and retained without regard to religion. Stock's attorneys argue that his anonymous letters are expressions of his deeply held religious conviction that God created all the human races and that the races

should be preserved. Judge Godfrey wrote that Stock's letters appear to be "an honest statement of his religious beliefs" and that the company's policy is "applicable to the rights of Elroy Stock, even if his personal expression of his religious views are anathema to West's management and to the community at large."

Christ statue to be restored RIO DE JANEIRO - If you're planning to visit Rio and see its famed Christ the Redeemer statue that dominates the skyline high above the city, you might be disappointed. The famed figure of Christ with outstretched arms, which is now cracked, chipped and stained, will soon be hidden behind scaffolding as the statue gets a much-needed face lift. Time, wind, rain, sea air and pollution from decades of car exhaust fumes have taken their toll on the monument, which has witnessed Rio's evolution from a peaceful city to one scarred by street violence and dilapidation. "It has grave problems," said Estela Elliot, a spokeswoman for Rio's mayor, said of the 125-foot statue atop the 2,400-foot Corcovado mountain. "It's cracked in places and parts of it are stained by pollution. There is structural damage that will have to be repaired," she said. The Brazilian subsidiary of the Royal Dutch Shell oil company and Brazil's Globo media empire signed an agreement last month to spend $2-million to restore the monument for its 59th anniversary in October.

Aid sent to Chernobyl The Catholic Medical Missions Board will send $371,000 in emergency medical supplies to aid Russian children who are victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. Estimates are that more than 2-million children suffer from conditions related to radiation poisoning, including leukemia and thyroid cancer. The Rev. Joseph J. Walter, executive director, said the shipments to the cities of Kiev and Lvov are in response to a request from the Children of Chernobyl Relief Fund, which is part of an Ukrainian federation of medical groups. The effects of the Chernobyl reactor meltdown will continue for some time, according to experts. Malnutrition stemming from the contamination of

the local food supply leaves the children less prepared to cope with disease.

Action on Evangelization 2000 The National Catholic Evangelization Association, the evangelical arm of the Paulist Fathers based in Washington, D.C., has been named the North American representative of Evangelization 2000 for 1990.

Evangelization 2000 is an international Roman Catholic effort inspired by Pope John Paul II and based on the gospel imperative to "make disciples of all nations."

- Compiled from Times news services

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