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
Missouri Synod Lutherans Declare
Worship Wars 'Sinful'
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has warned congregations that disagreements over worship styles that developed into full-fledged worship wars are “sinful.”
The eight-page “Theses on Worship” was adopted unanimously in September by the denomination's Council of Presidents, which includes its top officials and leaders of its 35 regional districts.
The document, the result of two years of work, describes worship as a command of God but says the Scriptures and doctrinal statements permit “considerable freedom” in choosing the rites and ceremonies used for worship.
“The polarization that is affecting the church concerning the issue of forms, rites and ceremonies is sinful and hinders the proclamation of the gospel,” it says.
The document will be distributed to pastors and churches with a memo from LCMS President Gerald B. Kieschnick that acknowledges the range of worship practices among the denomination's congregations that has sometimes led to “disharmony and even polarization.”
Kieschnick said the council hopes pastors, musicians and other church leaders will have “prayerful conversations” about the new theses, which are based on Scripture and the Book of Concord, a collection of Lutheran theological statements.
“We recognize that different affinities in music and worship expressions exist among us,” he wrote. “Yet we believe that our future with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ must be firmly grounded in the light of Christ's forgiveness, grace, and mercy.”
Evangelicals Endorse Immigration Reform
The National Association of Evangelicals on October 8 endorsed comprehensive immigration reform, saying new policies should reflect “biblical grace to the stranger.”
“We seek fair and human treatment for those who are immigrants,” NAE President Leith Anderson told reporters on Capitol Hill, shortly before testifying with other religious leaders at a Senate subcommittee hearing on faith-based perspectives on immigration reform.
Anderson said the NAE board adopted the resolution as growing numbers of immigrants fill the pews of churches affiliated with his organization, which includes 40 denominations and scores of other evangelical groups.
“Many of the immigrants in America are us,” he said. “That is, the growing edge of evangelical churches and denominations in the United States is the immigrant community.”
The resolution, approved overwhelmingly by voice vote of the NAE board, calls for the government to safeguard national borders, recognize the importance of family reunification and establish an “equitable process toward earned legal status for currently undocumented immigrants.”
Asked for specifics of NAE's suggestions about undocumented immigrants, Anderson said the process should be a reasonable one that might require, for example, undocumented immigrants to pay back taxes.
“We are not suggesting that those that are already in the United States without documentation are automatically granted either residency or citizenship status,” he said.
Survey Says 1 in 4 People Around Globe are Muslim
A new study released October 7 by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life counted 1.57 billion Muslims worldwide, making Muslims about 1 out of every 4 people in world's estimated population of 6.8 billion.
Almost 2.5 million Muslims live in the United States, comprising 0.2 percent of the world's Muslim population, according to Pew researchers.
“Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population” is based on 1,500 sources -- census reports, demographic studies and population surveys -- from 232 countries and territories.
More than half of the Muslims in the Americas live in the United States, but the comparatively small country of Suriname has the largest percentage of Muslims in the region, with 16 percent of its population identifying as Muslims. Two percent of Canadians are Muslim, more than double the United States' 0.8 percent.
A 2007 Pew study reported that two-thirds percent of U.S. Muslims are first-generation immigrants coming from at least 68 different countries. The same study stated that “Muslim Americans generally mirror the U.S. public in education and income.”
Minority Muslim groups claim a substantial portion of the global Muslim population, with more that 300 million Muslims living in countries where Islam is not the main religion, including large minority Muslim populations in India, China and Russia.
The 2009 report is the largest project of its kind. It will act as a starting point for a future study conducted by the Pew Forum, scheduled for release next year, looking at the future of Muslim populations.