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
Embattled Oral Roberts University
President Taking Leave of Absence
he embattled president of Oral Roberts University will take an indefinite leave of absence but expects to return to the post "in God's timing," he said on October 17.
The decision by Richard Roberts, son of the charismatic Christian university's namesake founder, came amid intense scrutiny over allegations of financial, political and other wrongdoing raised in a lawsuit by three former Oral Roberts University professors.
"I have asked the board of regents of Oral Roberts University to grant me a temporary leave of absence until such time as these matters can be resolved," Roberts said in a written statement. "I have prayed about it and feel that it is in the best interest of my family and the university."
In particular, he cited "untrue allegations of sexual misconduct by my wife" as having taken "a serious toll on me and my family." Lindsay Roberts has denied charges that she spent the night with an underage male and engaged in lurid behavior with a "male 16-year-old friend," as suggested by papers filed with the lawsuit.
Voicing full trust in the regents of the 5,300-student university in Tulsa, Roberts said he will "give myself afresh and anew to my family, and to prayer and the Word of God."
City Council Drops Lord's Prayer Before Meetings
For decades, the Akron City Council opened its weekly meetings with "Our father, who art in heaven ... ."
Council president Marco Sommerville said the practice "goes way, way back." Reciting the Lord's Prayer was most likely meant to show citizens that council members looked for outside guidance, he said.
But after a Washington, D.C., group threatened litigation, council members decided on October 15 to instead pray privately before meetings. They're also working on finding a nonsectarian prayer to replace the Christian prayer.
"I'm delighted that the Akron City Council did the right thing and that no one attending those meetings now feels like a second-class citizen because they don't believe in the Lord's Prayer," said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "The people who wanted to pray are going to do so before they go into council chambers, and that's fine."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio also applauded the move. "Government is there for people of all faiths and people of no faith," spokesman Gary Daniels said. City Councils can pray, but the prayers can't be specifically suited to one religion. Such a safeguard is inherent in the U.S. Constitution, said William Rich, a University of Akron professor consulted by the Akron City Council.
"The Constitution requires this degree of separation in part to protect religion from being influenced or co-opted by the government," he said.
Anglicans in Montreal, San Francisco Vote for Same-sex Blessings
A second Canadian Anglican diocese has voted to approve the blessing of same-sex marriages.
Delegates at the Diocese of Montreal's annual synod voted October 19 to request that the bishop grant permission for clergy whose conscience permits to solemnize registered civil marriages, including those between same-sex couples, where at least one party is baptized.
It also asks that the bishop authorize an appropriate rite for same-sex ceremonies and to enact regulations for their use in supportive parishes.
Clergy delegates to the synod voted 44-25 and lay delegates 59-32 in favor of the measure. The tally was similar to one passed recently in Ottawa, where delegates to that diocese's synod also asked that priests be allowed to conduct same-sex marriages, should the priest and parish approve.
In Montreal, Bishop Barry Clarke supported the resolution, telling reporters after the vote that he is "glad we came to a place where we made a decision."
Clarke added that he "will consider seriously what I have heard today. I will take it into serious and prayerful consideration. I am a pastor at heart."
Both resolutions seem to fly in the face of a vote at the national church's general synod last June, where delegates voted down a plan to let local churches decide for themselves whether to bless same-sex marriages.
The day after the Montreal vote, representatives of the San Francisco-based Episcopal Diocese of California approved use of rites for the blessing of same-sex couples, opening the way for Bishop Marc Andrus to allow them on a trial basis in Bay Area Episcopal churches.