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
BY MARK KELLY ©2008 Baptist Press
51 Students Injured, 9 Hospitalized
After Tornado Hits Union University
ifty-one students were treated for injuries and nine were kept overnight in a local hospital after a tornado wreaked havoc on the campus of Union University February 5.
All students have been accounted for and, while some of the injuries were serious, none were life threatening, Union President David Dockery said in a press conference early the next morning. The men's and women's residential complexes were almost completely destroyed, and the roof was torn off a main academic building, Dockery said. He recalled a 2002 tornado that struck the campus, causing $2.6 million in damage, and said this one was "15 times worse than that."
Twelve students were trapped in residence halls by storm damage, but the vast majority of the estimated 1,000 students on campus followed the school's emergency plan and escaped serious injury.
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Specter Moves to Allow Churches to Show Super Bowl
Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has introduced legislation to allow churches to show the Super Bowl on widescreen televisions, just as bars do now.
"There's absolutely no reason why you ought to be able to have a big screen in a bar but not in a church, where a church is having a social event," said Specter in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on February 3, hours before the National Football League championship game.
He was responding to NFL rules that bar churches from holding events featuring TV screens that are larger than 55 inches. "I think when the NFL has sent out letters to churches saying you can't have a social event, they have sort of lost touch with their duty of accountability to the American people," the senator said.
Specter also is seeking information from NFL officials about the destruction of videotapes related to the New England Patriots' spying on the New York Jets early in the season. John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia, has tried unsuccessfully to find a church willing to sue for the right to host large Super Bowl parties.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy has said NFL rules protect the network that paid to broadcast the game because large gatherings--in churches or theaters--could erode ratings and affect advertising revenues. "It's not a church issue, it's a copyright issue," he said.
Presbyterians Test New Rules on Gay Clergy
Minnesota Presbyterians have voted to restore the ordination of an openly gay man who has refused to pledge celibacy, the latest test of revamped pastoral guidelines in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Paul Capetz, a seminary professor, asked to be removed from ministry in 2000 after the PCUSA voted to require that ministers be married to a member of the opposite sex or remain celibate.
But changes made in 2006 to the Presbyterians' Book of Order allow candidates for ordination to declare a conscientious objection to church rules. Local presbyteries, or governing bodies, then must decide whether the objection "constitutes a failure to adhere to the essentials of Reformed faith and polity."
On January 26 the Presbytery of the Twin Cities voted that Capetz' objection, or "scruple," did not violate the "essentials" and restored his ordination as a minister of word and sacrament. Earlier this month, the Presbytery of San Francisco became the first to test the "scruple" policy when it voted to allow Lisa Larges, a lesbian, to continue on her path to ministry. A number of obstacles, including an appeal of the presbytery's action in church courts, still stands between Larges and ordination, however.
An openly gay Wisconsin man is also in the beginning stages of seeking ordination.
Capetz told the Minnesota presbytery that he would follow the pastoral guidelines on sex if the church allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry, saying "if that were the case, I would have no difficulty abiding by the standard of chastity in singles and fidelity and marriage."
Orthodox Jews Unveil `Kosher' Phone Service
In a move designed to increase its market share of religious customers, Israel's leading telephone company has introduced a "kosher" phone service that will prohibit outgoing calls to unsavory businesses, including ones that promote pornography.
Although the country's cell phone companies already provide such a service, those using land lines have never had this option.
Avi Gabbay, CEO of Bezeq Israel Telecom, which held a telecommunications monopoly until 2006, said the free "kosher line" was introduced in consultation with prominent rabbis, who have long warned of the risks of uncensored phone use and prohibit surfing the Internet.
"Obviously our main customer is the ultra-Orthodox, but a lot of parents don't want their children to be exposed to these kinds of numbers," said Itamar Harel, vice president of Bezeq's residential customers division.
Presumably, such a service will also appeal to many members of Israel's Muslim and Christian minorities, which constitute roughly 20 percent of the population. Though they make up less than 10 percent of Israel's Jews, the ultra-Orthodox represent an important and growing niche market. Their insular lifestyle, based on strict Torah law, has spurred an entire industry--ultra-kosher food, modest clothing, Sabbath-friendly technology--geared toward their unique needs.
Jonathan Rosenblum, director of the Am Echad, a Jerusalem-based information center about ultra-Orthodox Jewry, predicted the kosher phone service "won't be just for religious Jews. I think a lot of secular and (moderately religious) people will find it useful as well."