Religion Today Summaries - March 31, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 31, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Biblical Scholars Excited over Discovery in Jordanian Cave
  • GFA Missionaries Unreachable Since Burma Earthquake
  • U.S. Religious Freedom Envoy Tries for a Second Time
  • Supreme Court to Weigh Churches' Employment Rights

 

Biblical Scholars Excited over Discovery in Jordanian Cave

Biblical scholars and archaeologists recently announced a finding that they believe may be as important as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Christian Today reports that the collection of 70 texts was discovered in a Jordanian cave after a flash flood exposed them. If authenticated, the books may be the earliest known Christian writings, dating back to the first decades after the life of Jesus. “Maybe it will lead to further interpretation and authenticity checks of the material, but the initial information is very encouraging," said Ziad al-Saad of Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, "and it seems that we are looking at a very important and significant discovery, maybe the most important discovery in the history of archaeology.”

GFA Missionaries Unreachable Since Burma Earthquake

At least 120 people are dead after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Burma on March 24. Mission News Network reports that the remote areas affected are still dealing with downed communications and damaged roads, making it difficult to track down survivors. Mission group Gospel for Asia has hundreds of workers in the affected areas but has been unable to contact them. The group has also dispatched a Compassion Services team with relief supplies for those injured or displaced in the disaster. The earthquake is the latest in a string of disasters to hit the country in the last few years, including a cyclone that killed 100,000 people.

U.S. Religious Freedom Envoy Tries for a Second Time

The Obama administration's nominee to oversee international religious freedom returned to Capitol Hill on Tuesday in her second bid to charm senators who have doubts about her lack of experience. "I've brought people of different faiths together to achieve common objectives," the Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook told a Senate committee, "including religious freedom and respect for people of all faiths and beliefs." According to Religion News Service, Cook was initially nominated for the long-vacant post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom last June but her nomination lagged in the Senate and expired in December. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who was one of the lawmakers who had questioned Cook's lack of direct experience, cited "indications" she still lacks qualifications for the job.

Supreme Court to Weigh Churches' Employment Rights

Religion News Service reports that the Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider whether a teacher who was fired from a religious school is subject to a "ministerial exception" that can bar suits against religious organizations. The case involves an employment dispute between a Michigan school and a teacher who is defended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Lawyers for the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford, Mich., argue that courts have long recognized the First Amendment doctrine that often prevents employees who perform religious functions from suing religious organizations. They asked the court to determine whether it extends to teachers at a religious school who teach a secular curriculum but also teach religion classes and lead students in prayer.

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