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
Church of England Guilty of Discrimination, Employment Tribunal Rules
gay Christian has won his case for unlawful discrimination against the Church of England and a bishop who he claimed refused his job application because of his sexuality.
An employment tribunal ruled July 19 that John Reaney, 42, was discriminated against "on grounds of sexual orientation" when Bishop of Hereford Anthony Priddis stepped in to block his appointment after questioning him about his gay relationship.
Reaney told the tribunal that he was "very embarrassed and extremely upset" after his job interview by the Hereford diocesan board of finance, which he claimed had given him top marks as a candidate only to be overruled by the bishop.
Priddis told the tribunal he had made it clear to Reaney, who is single, that anyone committed to a sexual relationship outside marriage would be turned down for the job regardless of sexual orientation.
"Such sexuality in itself was not an issue," the bishop said, "but Mr. Reaney's lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese."
Priddis said he was "naturally disappointed" by the employment tribunal's decision, adding that "I still think the decision I made was the right one."
In an official statement, the Diocese of Hereford said that "in the light of the tribunal decision, the board of finance will be taking further legal advice with a view to appeal."
Reaney said he was "delighted" at the tribunal's judgment that the Church, the board and the bishop had "discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sexual orientation," in violation of British law.
His case "demonstrated to many lesbian and gay Christians working for God within the Church of England that they are entitled to fair and respectful treatment," Reaney said.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Sees Membership Decline
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America saw a slight drop in membership in 2006, continuing a trend of decline of more than a decade.
The total of baptized members at the end of 2006 was 4,774,203, a 1.6 percent decrease from the 2005 total of 4,850,776, denomination officials said.
The denomination has lost about 466,000 baptized members in the last 16 years, said the Rev. Lowell G. Almen, ELCA secretary. In 1990, there were 5,240,739 members.
Recent declines are due to a decrease in the number of new members, the disbanding of 40 congregations and "roll cleaning," in which long-inactive members have been removed from the membership lists of churches.
In a separate matter, Almen spoke Thursday (July 19) to the triennial convention of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Houston and urged leaders of the two denominations to continue their regular dialogues. The two groups have theological differences but cooperate on efforts such as relief work, immigration services and recruitment of
"The task has not been easy, and at times the prospects have seemed discouraging," said Almen, who will retire later this year after 20 years as ELCA secretary. "These two church bodies need to work together in as many ways as possible, now and in the years to come. We need to do so not just for ourselves, but ... for the sake of our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren."
Senate Panel OKs Single Indecency Bill
A U.S. Senate committee approved legislation July 19 to assure the federal government has the authority to rule a broadcast is indecent based on the use of one word or image.
The Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation forwarded to the full Senate by unanimous consent the Protecting Children From Indecent Programming Act, S. 1780. The bill calls for the Federal Communications Commission to "maintain a policy that a single word or image may constitute indecent programming."
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. John Rockefeller, D.-W.Va., seeks to remedy a June ruling by a federal appeals court that undermined FCC rulings against television programs in which obscene words were used in prime time.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Rockefeller in a July 18 letter the entity fully endorses his bill.
"Passage of this bill into law will help protect children from encountering indecent words and images on television," Land said. "Even a single indecent word broadcast on television during regular family viewing hours can have a negative impact on children and society, and the FCC should have the ability to punish such airings for violation of indecency laws."
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Louisiana Moves to Restrict Abortion
Gov. Kathleen Blanco has signed into law two bills banning a controversial form of late-term abortions, making Louisiana the first state to outlaw the procedure after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal ban in April.
Under two bills, which went into effect Friday (July 13), anyone convicted of performing "a partial birth abortion ... thereby kills a human fetus" and can be imprisoned for one to 10 years, fined from $10,000 to $100,000, or both. Women who have the procedure will not be subjected to fines or jail time under the new laws.
A doctor charged with the crime can seek a hearing before the State Board of Medical Examiners to determine whether the procedure was necessary to save the mother's life, an exemption under the new laws.
A lawsuit can be filed against someone who performs the procedure. The law says those who can file a "wrongful death" or injury lawsuit are the biological father of the fetus, unless his "criminal conduct" caused the pregnancy, as in a rape; the mother of the fetus, unless she was an adult and consented to the procedure; or the mother's guardians, if the mother was a minor at the time -- unless the parents consented to the abortion.
In April, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that restricting the procedure, usually performed in the late stages of pregnancy, is legal. Louisiana enacted a state ban on the procedure in 1997, but a federal court threw it out in 1999. So-called "partial-birth abortions" account for roughly 3 percent of the 11,000-plus abortions performed in Louisiana each year.
Earlier this month, Blanco signed into law a bill that requires a woman to be told before an abortion that a fetus can feel pain. The bill also requires that a woman be told of the availability of anesthesia that would "eliminate or alleviate organic pain to the unborn child." That law takes effect Aug. 15.