Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 17, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 17, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Famed Journalist and Christian Mentor John McCandlish Phillips dies at 85
  • Planned Parenthood of Delaware Accused of Unsafe Conditions
  • Earthquake In Iran, Dozens Feared Dead
  • Richard Land to Head Southern Evangelical Seminary

Famed Journalist and Christian Mentor John McCandlish Phillips dies at 85

John McCandlish Phillips Jr., an acclaimed New York Times reporter who left his job to become an evangelist, died April 9 at age 85 after a long bout with pneumonia, WORLD reports. Phillips worked for 21 years at the Times, and was known for his hard-hitting journalism as well as his creative feature articles.  Phillips famously kept a Bible on his desk and abstained from the common newsroom practices of drinking and gambling. Yet, he didn’t have a preachy reputation: He was known as a “quiet giant” and maintained an exemplary reputation.

Phillips mentored several generations of journalists, even in the years after he left journalism. Russ Pulliam, a WORLD board member, was a friend and mentee of Phillips. “I didn’t even know how to say, ‘How do we bring a Christian worldview to our work?’” Pulliam recalled Tuesday. “I know for a number of younger Christians in journalism he was a friend who gave us guidance. …He could go write a story and bring biblical principles to bear in it, and in such a subtle way. And the New York Times editors would love it.”

In 1965, Phillips reported on Daniel Burros, the leader of New York state’s Ku Klux Klan who advocated for the genocide of Jew. In the lead-up to the story, Phillips found out that Burros was himself Jewish, and Burros threatened to kill Phillips. When Phillips went forward with his reporting, Burros committed suicide the day the Times published the story.

Phillips quit the Times in 1973. He said he felt God calling him into full-time ministry, which he did through a small Pentecostal church he helped found and run: New Testament Missionary Fellowship. At the time the Christian community in New York City was very small, but has grown in recent decades.

Planned Parenthood of Delaware Accused of Unsafe Conditions

Two former workers from Planned Parenthood of Delaware say the Wilmington abortion center’s unsanitary and unsafe conditions put women at risk, WORLD reports. In an interview, Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich and Joyce Vasikonis described soiled operating tables not cleaned between patients and abortionists who refused to wear gloves. The women, who are registered nurses, quit their jobs to protect their medical licenses. Both women said the Planned Parenthood facility should be closed.

According to the local ABC news affiliate, the abortion providers in Delaware do not undergo routine inspections because the Delaware Department of Health does not have enough manpower.  However, the agency does respond to complaints, and did tour the Planned Parenthood facility in October after a patient called. Mary Peterson, who works for Delaware’s health department, said inspectors did not find any evidence during the inspection to support the nurses’ claims. In spite of this, five patients have been rushed from the facility to a nearby hospital since the beginning of the year, something Peterson said state officials would be looking at more closely.

Earthquake In Iran, Dozens Feared Dead

At least 40 people are feared dead in Iran and seven more in Pakistan after a powerful earthquake near the countries' shared border, CNN reports. The earthquake was preliminarily measured at 7.8 magnitude, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The epicenter of the quake, which struck at around 3:15 p.m. local time, was about 50 miles north of Saravan, the Iranian Seismological Center reported. A state of emergency has been declared in the area, and rescue workers have been deployed from other provinces.

Richard Land to Head Southern Evangelical Seminary

Richard Land, the evangelical culture warrior who was set to leave his job with the Southern Baptists after a series of controversies, will step down early to become head of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, N.C., in July, RNS reports. The Charlotte school focuses on apologetics, or defending the Christian faith in the modern world, a subject Land is passionate about and taught for years as the head of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

"My goal is to join with the SES family to produce an ever increasing number of graduates who will be the green berets and paratroopers of God's army, and who will be used by him to win tremendous victories for Christ and His kingdom," Land said in a statement. A year ago, Land made controversial comments about race and the Trayvon Martin case that resulted in a reprimand from the SBC and the loss of his radio show. Land was also found to have lifted passages, without attribution, from another source for his radio commentaries. Russell Moore, dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was elected to succeed Land.