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
Oral Roberts University President Resigns
he embattled president of Oral Roberts University (ORU) has resigned amid intense scrutiny over allegations of financial, political, and other wrongdoing at the Christian university in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Richard Roberts, son of the university's namesake founder, submitted a resignation letter to ORU's board of regents on November 23. The resignation came just days before the board was scheduled to hear the results of an outside investigation of allegations against him and his wife, Lindsay.
In his letter, Roberts said, "I love ORU with all my heart. I love the students, faculty, staff, and administration, and I want to see God's best for all of them."
A statement from the Rev. George Pearsons, chairman of ORU's board of regents, said regents would meet November 26 and 27 to determine action in the search process for a new president.
Roberts, a "lifetime spiritual regent" on the university board and chairman and CEO of Oral Roberts Ministries, had placed himself on an indefinite leave of absence October 17 as university president. But he had said he expected to return to the post in "God's timing."
He was the second president in the 42-year history of the 4,000-student university, succeeding his father, Oral Roberts, in 1993.
Pearsons said executive regent Billy Joe Daugherty would continue to assume administrative responsibilities in the office of the president, working with chancellor Oral Roberts. The allegations that sparked the turmoil over Richard Roberts' presidency were raised in a lawsuit filed October 2 by three former ORU professors who claim efforts to act as whistleblowers cost them their jobs. The lawsuit in Tulsa County District Court alleges illegal political activity and lavish, unchecked spending by Richard Roberts and his family.
On November 12, tenured faculty approved a motion voicing "no confidence" in Richard Roberts and calling for "greater faculty governance and transparency of university finances."
State Baptist Conventions Urge Prevention of Child Abuse
Following action taken on the national level this summer, several Southern Baptist state conventions took steps this fall to urge that children be protected from abuse.
Baptist groups in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Ohio passed resolutions. Most encouraged churches to perform background checks on volunteers and staffers who work with children, reported Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
They also recommended use of abuse prevention materials from the denomination's LifeWay Christian Resources. But, like the decentralized national Southern Baptist Convention, the state bodies have no power to impose policies on autonomous member churches.
In June, Southern Baptists attending their national convention in San Antonio passed a resolution expressing their "moral outrage" about child sexual abuse and urging churches to take preventative steps.
"We renounce individuals, churches, or other religious bodies that cover up, ignore, or otherwise contribute to or condone the abuse of children," reads the non-binding resolution that passed June 13.
Other topics of concern in several states included hate crimes legislation and alcohol. Baptists in Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, and Oklahoma opposed any legislation that expands hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation. Conservative religious groups have expressed concern that adding sexual orientation could threaten First Amendment rights by muzzling pastors who preach against homosexuality.
Five state conventions -- the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Florida, Missouri, Alabama, and Oklahoma-- addressed use of alcohol, with some changing bylaws to clarify that trustees should not drink alcoholic beverages.
Labor Group Alleges Crucifixes Made in Sweatshops
Some crucifixes sold in the United States are made under "horrific" conditions in a Chinese factory, a labor rights leader said on November 20 in front of New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Charles Kernaghan, director of the National Labor Committee, told reporters the products come from a factory in Dongguan, China, where employees--mostly women--work 15-hour days and are paid 26 cents an hour.
"It's a throwback to the worst of the garment sweatshops 10, 20 years ago," Kernaghan said, according to the Associated Press. Factory workers eat "slop" and live in dirty dormitories, he said.
Kernaghan charged that St. Patrick's and Trinity Episcopal Church at Wall Street sell crucifixes in their gift shops with the factory's serial number.
Joe Zwilling, a spokesman for St. Patrick's, said the church was unaware of the claims against the factory before Tuesday, while Trinity spokeswoman Diane Reed said her church had been "under the impression that these were mass-produced in Italy."
St. Patrick's and Trinity purchased their crucifixes from Singer Co. in Mount Vernon, New York. The company's co-owner, Gerald Singer, told The Associated Press that his company bought the crucifixes from Full Start, a Chinese company.
"Whether they came out of a sweatshop, we do not know," Singer said. "We asked Full Start to sign off that there are no sweatshop conditions involved, and no children, and that they abide by Chinese law. This is a black eye for us."
A man at the factory in question, who did not give his name, told The Associated Press that the claims were "totally incorrect," and said the factory's employees work eight hour days and have a 90-minute lunch break.
St. Patrick's and Trinity have removed the crucifixes from their gift shops while looking further into the allegations.
A Chicago congregation is testing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) new policy on gay clergy by ordaining a lesbian who Resurrection Lutheran Church ordained the Rev. Jennette Lynn Rude, 27, on November 17 despite church requirements that gay clergy be celibate. Rude told reporters the policy is discriminatory since heterosexual ministers take no such vow. The ceremony was an "extraordinary ordination," according to a Lutheran group for gay clergy, because it was "performed outside the ordinary guidelines for Lutheran ordinations."
Rude received all the training and schooling for Lutheran ministry but has not been approved for Chicago's roster of eligible clergy, said Jeff Drake, a synod spokesman. She is credentialed by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, an independent group for gay clergy.
Rude's ordination and installation are believed to be the first test of the 4.8 million-member ELCA's new policy on gay clergy.
At the ELCA's national assembly in August, delegates left the celibacy requirement in place but called on bishops to refrain from defrocking any gay ministers.
Bishop Wayne Miller of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod did not attend the ordination; neither did he prohibit it. Drake said Miller was unavailable for comment Monday but provided a statement from the synod dated November 2. "Bishop Miller has had an honest and constructive conversation with the members of Resurrection Lutheran Church. He will continue to provide pastoral care and leadership to this congregation," the statement reads.
Rude could not be reached for comment.
In a letter posted on Resurrection's Web site, the Rev. Brian Hiortdahl said the church's nine-member council voted unanimously to call Rude to ministry. "Extending a call to her to serve as pastor in our community sends strong witness to our wider ELCA about our belief that its ongoing policy prohibiting non-heterosexual clergy in committed relationships is unacceptable and must be reformed," Hiortdahl wrote.