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
Supreme Court: Lethal
Injection Method OK
he U.S. Supreme Court in a 7-2 ruling April 16 upheld Kentucky's method of lethal injection, giving states nationwide the green light to lift their unofficial moratoriums on such death penalty methods.
In addition to Kentucky, 36 states use legal injection, including at least 30 that use the same three-drug combination that Kentucky employs. Kentucky and those other states use sodium pentothal, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride to render the inmate unconscious, cause paralysis and stop the heart, respectively. The federal government also uses lethal injection for federal death penalty cases.
States had put a moratorium on lethal injection and postponed some executions, waiting for the court's ruling. The lawsuit was brought by two Kentucky death row inmates who challenged the state's method of lethal injection as "cruel and unusual punishment," thereby violating the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment.
The inmates and their attorneys were not asking that lethal injection be banned, only that a different method be used. They insisted that Kentucky's method posed an unnecessary risk of pain, particularly if the dose of sodium pentothal, given at the outset and intended to cause unconsciousness, was improperly administered.
The court, though, disagreed, upholding a ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court. "Simply because an execution method may result in pain, either by accident or as an inescapable consequence of death, does not establish the sort of 'objectively intolerable risk of harm' that qualifies as cruel and unusual," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.
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New Studies Support Abstinence Education
Abstinence education is effective at delaying sexual initiation and reducing the levels of early sexual activity, according to two studies presented April 22 at the National Press Club in Washington.
A study led by Stan Weed of the Institute of Research and Evaluation examined the impact of abstinence education in reducing the initiation of sexual activity by seventh-grade students in suburban Virginia. The second study, which reviewed 21 abstinence education programs and found that 16 of them reported positive results, was published by The Heritage Foundation.
Both studies were presented in conjunction with hearings April 23 by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which were to feature seven witnesses speaking in support of comprehensive sex education and two testifying in favor of abstinence education, with a goal of assessing the need for continued abstinence education funding.
Weed's study, published in the January/February edition of the American Journal of Health Behavior, evaluated the Virginia Abstinence Education Initiative by tracking the behavior of seventh-graders in five different Virginia schools.
Students receiving abstinence education, the study concluded, were about one-half as likely to initiate sexual activity as students who did not receive abstinence education.
"The fundamental question here is, 'Can you change or influence adolescent behavior?' and the answer to that, as this and other studies in abstinence education demonstrate, is yes," said Weed, who was scheduled to present his findings at the House hearing.
"Abstinence education has been a mainstream curriculum for less than a decade," Weed added. "That is a very short time to measure the success of a program, but this study indicates that properly targeted, focused and implemented policies, programs and funding streams can turn the trends of negative behavioral consequences in a positive direction."
The Heritage Foundation study, a background paper written by Christine Kim and Robert Rector, noted that each year about 2.6 million teenagers become sexually active -- a rate of 7,000 teens per day. Among high school students, nearly half acknowledge having engaged in sexual activity and one-third are currently active, the authors reported.
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Australian Anglicans Appoint Woman Bishop
For the first time, a woman bishop has been appointed in the Anglican Church of Australia, making it the fourth Anglican province to have an active woman bishop.
The Venerable Kay Goldsworthy, 51, was named assistant bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Perth, Episcopal News Service reported. She will be consecrated May 22 at St. George's Cathedral in Perth.
"In making this announcement, I am delighted that we in the church of Perth continue our unwavering commitment to Christ's gospel by recognizing women and men as equal," said the Most Rev. Roger Herft, archbishop of Perth, in an April 11 statement.
He said Goldsworthy was one of the first women to be ordained to the priesthood in the same cathedral where she will become a bishop.
Goldsworthy, in a statement, said she was honored and humbled by the appointment.
"Since the first consecration of a woman bishop in 1989, women have been serving with distinction alongside men as bishops in many parts of the Anglican Communion -- a development long taken for granted," she said.
"Australia has been a while catching up, but our time has come, and I know that the great majority of Australian Anglicans will warmly welcome this day."
Currently, 14 of the 38 provinces in the worldwide Anglican Communion allow women bishops, but women are currently serving in only three provinces: the Episcopal Church (in the United States); Canada; and the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
Herft said women could be named bishops following a ruling last October that such appointments are permitted by the Australian church's constitution.
National Day of Prayer Observed From the Air, on the Ground
On the National Day of Prayer, petitions to God will be made from the ground and from the air. Plans for the annual observance, on May 1, include private pilots who intend to fly and pray over all 50 state capitols.
Tens of thousands of events, organized through a Colorado-based task force, will be held in churches, on courthouse steps and in parks. Organizers range from military members to teenagers.
For the first time, the event will be marked at a memorial chapel in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, which commemorates the 9/11 crash site of United Flight 93.
"This is a critical time to be in prayer for our country," said Shirley Dobson, chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.
"The biblical principles upon which America was founded are under attack in every segment of society. We pray God will raise righteous leaders for our country."
Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias is the 2008 honorary chairman. He will address observances on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon.
The National Day of Prayer was established by Congress in 1952 and is observed on the first Thursday of May.