The Adventist Review shares the following world news from Religion News Service as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in these reports do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Review or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. -- Editors
Christian Reformed Church Votes
to Allow Female Clergy
he Christian Reformed Church quietly made history as the CRC Synod voted June 12 to remove the word "male" from its requirements for church office.
After 37 years of back-and-forth struggle, delegates opened the way for women to become ministers in any of the CRC's 1,000-plus churches. If other proposed changes are approved as expected, women also will be able to serve as delegates to the Synod for the first time.
"This is the beginning of an opening I think is going to be monumental for the church," said Carol Rottman, who has been working for women's ordination since the mid-1970s.
However, the decision allows local church groups called classes to prohibit female ministers and elders from being delegated to their meetings. That was seen as a needed compromise for conservatives.
"There will be many of us who will continue to believe those biblical requirements involve a gender component, and it is impossible for us to surrender that idea," said the Rev. Joel Nederhood of suburban Chicago. "What we have here is the kind of protection we must have."
The vote came on the day the Synod recognized 30 candidates for ministry, including three women. However, it does not require any church to hire a woman.
Episcopal leaders on June 14 rebuffed demands from overseas Anglicans to roll back their church's pro-gay policies, arguing that such decisions can only be made at the denomination's triennial conventions.
The church's 40-member Executive Council, which is headed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, also declined a proposal from Anglican archbishops to create a separate church structure for conservatives who reject her leadership.
The panel, meeting in Parsippany, N.J., questioned overseas archbishops' power to "impose deadlines and demands upon any of the churches of the Anglican Communion or to prescribe the relationships within ... our common life."
The Executive Council declined to give a "yes or no, up or down decision," to all of the archbishops' demands, said the Rev. Lee Alison Crawford, a council member and rector of St. Mary's Parish in Northfield, Vermont.
But Crawford said the council provided "a strong affirmation that the Episcopal Church is not going to go backward from the commitment to our (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) brothers and sisters."
Last February, primates--or top archbishops--in the worldwide Anglican Communion demanded Episcopalians pledge to stop consecrating gay bishops, halt blessings for same-sex unions and cede some authority to oversees Anglicans to minister to disaffected U.S. conservatives. The U.S. church was given a deadline of Sept. 30 or face "consequences."
Generally, the Executive Council is charged with making decisions for the 2.2 million-member church between its triennial General Conventions. The council said the archbishops' demands could only be considered at General Convention--next scheduled for 2009--thus essentially putting off the primates' demands.
"It's neither go back to the drawing board nor a complete rejection," Jefferts Schori said at a teleconference, adding that Episcopal bishops could take up the demands at their meeting in September.
Derived from the Church of England, the 38 national and regional churches of the global Anglican Communion enjoy relative autonomy, though conservatives are pushing for more central oversight.
At its last General Convention in 2006, the Episcopal Church voted to "exercise restraint" by not consecrating bishops "whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on the communion." Some church leaders have interpreted that as prohibiting noncelibate gay bishops.
Vatican Tells Drivers: Thou Shalt Cool the Road Rage
The Vatican, taking a detour from its usual pronouncements on faith and morals, on Tuesday (June 19) issued a set of "Drivers' `Ten Commandments'" in an effort to promote greater traffic safety.
The commandments were part of a document, Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road, published by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.
Noting that some 35 million people were killed in traffic accidents over the course of the 20th century--often due to "downright stupid and arrogant behavior by drivers or pedestrians"--the document proclaims the need for a "road ethics" based on "theological, ethical, legal and technological principles."
According to the guidelines, driving is a matter of virtue. Charity requires drivers to "allow someone who wishes to drive faster to pass," prudence forbids the use of cell phones behind the wheel, and justice "requires that drivers have a full and precise knowledge of the Highway Code."
The document also recommends praying on the road, in particular the Rosary, "which, due to its rhythm and gentle repetition, does not distract the driver's attention."
The guidelines follow in a tradition of Vatican pronouncements on the need for road safety. Among the authorities cited are statements on the subject by Popes Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II.
Traffic is the subject of only the first half of the 36-page document; the rest addresses the pastoral care of "street women" (prostitutes), "street children," and "the homeless" (tramps).
The guidelines urge evangelization in the "discotheques and in the `hottest' areas of our metropolises" and urge soup kitchens to respect "guests' dietary habits ... in respect of their religious traditions."
Study Says College Graduates More Likely to Keep the Faith
It seems that the ivory tower is not undermining the faith after all. A new study from the University of Texas at Austin indicates that college graduates are far more likely to maintain their religious beliefs and practices than those who never attended college.
Researchers found that four-year college students and graduates are least likely to neglect church attendance, say religion is less important in their lives or abandon their faith altogether. Those who do not pursue a degree are the most likely to leave religion behind.
"Many people assume college is public enemy number one for religion," said assistant professor of sociology Mark Regnerus, author of "Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers." "But we found young adults who don't experience college are far more likely to turn away from religion."
Jeremy Uecker, a graduate student and lead author of the study, said the findings suggest that the culture of the nation's campuses is changing.
"Religion and spirituality are becoming more accepted in higher education, both in intellectual circles and in campus life," he said in a press release. "Religious students are encountering a much less hostile environment than in years past."
Among those least likely to leave their faith are Jews, Catholics and black Protestants, who often tie religion to cultural heritage. Women, Southerners and individuals whose parents are still married are also unlikely to abandon religion.
Researchers drew from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which tracked more than 10,000 Americans from adolescence through early adulthood from 1994 to 1995 and again from 2001 to 2002. The complete study, titled "Losing My Religion," appears in the June 2007 issue of the sociology journal Social Forces.