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
Dobson Plans New Radio Ministry
eligious broadcaster James Dobson will leave the “Focus on the Family” radio program in late February but will continue on the airwaves through a new ministry.
Officials at the Colorado-based ministry that Dobson founded three decades ago say they don't see his plans, which Dobson announced on his Facebook page, as competition.
“No, we don't view that as competition,” said Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger on January 5. “We believe that people believe in what Focus on the Family is doing and that they'll continue to do so.”
Focus plans to continue the radio program, which will feature Focus president and CEO Jim Daly, on-staff family psychologist Juli Slattery and other experts on parenting, marriage and culture, possibly including Dobson.
In his announcement, Dobson said his new 30-minute daily program, which will be called “James Dobson on the Family,” will begin in March and feature his son, Ryan, as co-host.
“The program will be much like what you have heard on Focus on the Family for the past 33 years,” said the 73-year-old broadcaster. “It will deal with marriage, child-rearing, family finances, medical and psychological concerns, national issues, the sanctity of human life, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
He said he “sensed that the Lord would have me hand the reins of Focus to gifted successors,” but still feels called to address the nation's “moral decline of shocking dimensions.”
Dobson's announcement included a request for donations toward the estimated $2 million first-year costs for his new ministry, including radio airtime. But he also urged continuing support of Focus, saying it “must not be allowed to languish in the days to come.”
In a statement issued after Dobson's announcement, Daly said of his predecessor: “He has the chance to share his life's work and passion with his only son. What man wouldn't choose to do that?”
N.J. Senate Rejects Same-sex Marriage Bill
The New Jersey state Senate on January 7 voted down a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, prompting a promise from gay-rights advocates to take their campaign to the courts.
The final tally, 20-14 with three abstentions, reflects a dramatic shift in the state's political landscape since gay-marriage supporter Gov. Jon Corzine lost his bid for re-election to Republican Chris Christie in November.
Christie came out strongly against the bill, emboldening opponents of same-sex marriage and drawing undecided senators to the Republican fold. He has also said he would veto a same-sex marriage bill if it ever reached his desk.
Steven Goldstein, who led the push for gay marriage as chairman of the gay-rights group Garden State Equality, said he and other advocates would move swiftly to force the issue in the courts.
Jordan Files Complaint Over Dead Sea Scrolls
Jordan has complained to a United Nations agency after Canada refused to seize the Dead Sea Scrolls at a recent exhibit in Toronto.
Jordan says the ancient manuscripts, which had been on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority, were stolen from a museum in East Jerusalem, which Israel seized from Jordan during the Six-Day War of 1967.
Some of the earliest biblical and religious writings ever found, the 2,000-year-old scrolls were discovered by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947 in caves overlooking the Dead Sea.
Seventeen of the approximately 900 scrolls had been on display in Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum since June for the hugely popular “Words that Changed the World” exhibition that closed on January 3.
On January 11, after Canada declined to seize the scrolls, Jordan announced that it had complained to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
“The government has legal documents that prove Jordan owns the scrolls,” Rafea Harahsheh of Jordan's antiquities department said in a statement.
Jordan made its most recent claim to the scrolls in mid-December, citing the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper quoted a spokesperson for Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade as saying that it would be inappropriate for Canada to intervene.
“Differences regarding ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls should be addressed by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority,” the spokesperson stated.
Palestinians also claim the scrolls as part of their heritage. In 2009 they had asked Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to cancel the exhibition, stating that the documents had been stolen from Palestinian territory.
Both Jordanian and Palestinian officials said they did not expect Canada to determine who owned the scrolls but wanted them kept safe until their ownership was resolved.
The scrolls are scheduled to be part of an exhibition at the Milwaukee Public Museum, starting January 22.
Charges of Religion-related Job Bias Hits Record
Incidents of alleged religion-based workplace discrimination hit record highs in fiscal year 2009, along with complaints of bias based on disability and national origin, according to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission.
Charges of religion-related bias in private-sector jobs have increased steadily from fiscal year 1997, when they amounted to 2.1 percent of workplace discrimination complaints, to fiscal year 2009, when they were 3.6 percent.
The overall number of charges filed during the most recent fiscal year--93,277--was the second-highest ever. Victims received monetary relief of more than $376 million during the time period studied, which ended September 30, 2009.
Of the 3,386 religion-based charges received by the EEOC, 2,958 were resolved.
About 60 percent of resolved cases -- both overall and specifically religious ones -- were found to have “no reasonable cause,” based on evidence obtained during an investigation. Those bringing charges could still challenge their employers through private court action.
Following a trend over the last decade, the most frequently filed charges in fiscal year 2009 related to alleged discrimination based on race (36 percent), retaliation (36 percent) and sex (30 percent). A single charge filing may allege multiple kinds of discrimination.
“The latest data tell us that, as the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, the commission's work is far from finished,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru in a statement on January 6.