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
Conservatives Threaten Schism
Over Anglican Women Bishops
he Church of England is facing the threat of a major split and years of turmoil over the church's July 7 vote by the church's General Synod to allow the ordination of women as bishops.
The Synod's vote authorizes the formation of a group to draft a code to be put to a Synod vote next year. A ballot of dioceses in England will be required before a further vote by the General Synod, possibly not until 2012 at the earliest. The Church of England has had women priests since 1994. Ten Anglican provinces allow women bishops, but only four--the Episcopal Church in the United States, and Anglican churches in Canada, Australia and New Zealand--currently have women serving as bishops.
At the Synod meeting, bishops voted 28 to 12 to move forward on female bishops; the clergy voted 124-44 and the laity 111-68 in favor.
The debate prompted the church's No. 2 official, an exasperated Archbishop of York John Sentamu, to lambaste the church for wasting time on internal politics while ignoring the problems of the world outside. "Jesus Christ is in the streets weeping," Sentamu fumed in a separate speech before the vote. "Did you see the newspaper that said the Church is navel-gazing while our children are being slaughtered and killed?"
Meanwhile, in a letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, more than 1,300 clergy, including 11 bishops, have already threatened to leave the Church of England if women are permitted to become bishops.
The letter's signatories said they have begun "thinking very hard about the way ahead" and that "we will inevitably be asking whether we can, in conscience, continue as bishops, priests and deacons in the Church of England which has been our home."
The embattled archbishop insisted he had no intention of limiting the authority of women within the church, saying, "I am deeply unhappy with any scheme or any solution to this which ends, as it were, structurally humiliating women who might be nominated."
Gay Man Sues Publishers Over Bible Verses
A gay man is suing two heavyweight Christian publishers, claiming their versions of the Bible that refer to homosexuality as a sin violate his constitutional rights and have caused him emotional pain and mental instability.
Bradley LaShawn Fowler of Canton, Mich., is seeking $60 million from Zondervan, based in Cascade Township, and $10 million from Nashville, Tenn.-based Thomas Nelson Publishing.
Fowler filed the suit in federal court against Zondervan on July 7, the same day U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr. refused to appoint an attorney to represent him in his case against Thomas Nelson.
Fowler filed a suit against Thomas Nelson in June. He is representing himself in both claims. "The Court has some very genuine concerns about the nature and efficacy of these claims," the judge wrote. Fowler, 39, alleges Zondervan's Bibles referring to homosexuality as a sin have made him an outcast from his family and contributed to physical discomfort and periods of "demoralization, chaos and bewilderment."
The intent of the publisher was to design a religious, sacred document to reflect an individual opinion or a group's conclusion to cause "me or anyone who is a homosexual to endure verbal abuse, discrimination, episodes of hate, and physical violence ... including murder," Fowler wrote.
Fowler's suit claims Zondervan's text revisions from a 1980s version of the Bible included, and then deleted, a reference to homosexuality in 1 Corinthians without informing the public of the changes. The other suit, against Thomas Nelson and its New King James Bible, mirrors the allegations made against Zondervan.
Christian & Religious Families Happier, Less Likely to Divorce
BY MICHAEL FOUST ©2008 Baptist Press
Men who attend religious services regularly are more likely to have happy and stable marriages, more likely to be involved with their children and less likely to divorce, new research says. Additionally, mothers who attend church weekly are half as likely to have children out of wedlock, the study says.
The research by the University of Virginia's W. Bradford Wilcox analyzed data from three national surveys: the General Social Survey, the National Survey of Families and Households, and the National Survey of Family Growth. The research also drew partially from data in Wilcox's book, "Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands."
"[R]eligious men (and their wives) enjoy happier marriages, they are less likely to father a child outside of wedlock, and they are more likely to take an active and affectionate approach to child rearing, compared to secular or nominally religious men," Wilcox wrote. "Therefore, any effort to strengthen men's ties to their children and families must acknowledge and incorporate the important role that religious institutions play in directing men's hearts toward home."
The research -- titled "Is Religion An Answer? Marriage, Fatherhood, and the Male Problematic" -- was posted on the website of The Center for Marriage and Families in June. It was commissioned by the National Fatherhood Initiative.
The research paper noted that over the past 50 years large numbers of men have become disconnected from family life. The "percentage of children living in father-absent homes rose from 11 percent in 1960 to 27 percent in 2000," the paper said. Additionally, 38.5 percent of babies in 2006 were born out of wedlock, it said.
The breakdown of marriage, the sexual revolution, declining real wages and the rise of individualism all have contributed to distancing men from their families, the research said. Religion, though, can play a role in bringing men closer to their families, it said.
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Audio Bible Wins Christian Book of the Year Award
For the first time in its 30-year history, the Christian Book of the Year award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association is going to a Bible and an audio product.
The Word of Promise New Testament Audio Bible, produced by Nashville, Tenn.-based Thomas Nelson Inc., took home the coveted award. It is the first year ECPA included media presentations of the Bible in the program. The New Testament dramatization features the voices of actors Jim Caviezel, Stacy Keach, Louis Gossett Jr. and Marisa Tomei, among others.
The Christian Book of the Year winner was selected from 32 finalists using "overall excellence" and "consumer impact" as criteria.
The Word of Promise has maintained a firm spot on the ECPA's best-sellers list since its release last October, and is the No. 1 best-selling Bible retailing for more than $30, according to a press release.
"The Scriptures have always had a unique oral tradition and our members have continued to creatively produce amazing presentations of this written Word," said ECPA President Mark Kuyper. "Allowing audio presentations of the Bible into the Christian Book Award Program this year was a timely decision."