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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 23, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 23, 2007

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Baptists Divided Over Female Professors Teaching Men
  • Pakistan Court Overturns Life Sentence for Christian
  • Homeless Ministry Left 'Out in the Cold' by City Officials
  • Honduran Christian Leader In Hiding

Baptists Divided Over Female Professors Teaching Men

The Christian Post reports that Southern Baptists are divided over Southwestern Baptist Theological seminary's decision to dismiss a female faculty member because of the Pauline stance that women should not be allowed to teach theology to men. Sheri Klouda received her doctorate from Southwestern and was hired for a tenure-track position in 2002 teaching Hebrew. In 2004, however, Klouda was informed she should seek another job as tenure would not be an option. Klouda now teaches at Taylor University in Indiana. Van McClain, chairman of Southwestern trustees, said the seminary is holding to the "traditional, confessional and biblical position" that women should not teach men in theology or biblical languages, calling Klouda's hiring, "a momentary lax of the parameters." Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson, calling the decision "a very serious, ethical, moral breach," countered: "Sheri Klouda is not a pastor, she has not been ordained or licensed, she does not perform ministerial duties. She is a professor, for heaven's sake. The same institution that conferred her degree and hired her has now removed her for gender." Klouda's take: "I don't think it was right to... remove me without any cause other than gender."

Pakistan Court Overturns Life Sentence for Christian

A Pakistani court last week acquitted a Christian “blasphemy” prisoner on grounds that the convict was mentally unstable, while another Christian facing the same accusation was released on bail, Compass Direct News reports. Justice Muhammad Ijaz Chaudhry overturned Shahbaz Masih’s life sentence at a Lahore High Court hearing on Friday January 19, citing evidence that the Christian was mentally handicapped. He has been incarcerated for more than five years. The judge also noted that no one had seen Masih, 28, commit the alleged crime, defense lawyer Khalil Tahir Sindhu said. Sindhu said his client’s life may still be in danger from Muslim fanatics angered by the verdict. Another Christian in Faisalabad went into hiding last week while awaiting a court decision over accusations that he defiled the Quran.

Homeless Ministry Left 'Out in the Cold' by City Officials

City officials in Elgin, IL, are being sued by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) after the Chicago suburb's decision-makers chose to close a homeless ministry during an icy winter. AgapePress reports the ministry - known as Hope, Encouragement, Love, Prayer and Salvation, or H.E.L.P.S. - provides food, counseling and other means of support for the homeless in Elgin. However, city officials recently forced the ministry to leave its location inside the Family Life Church, citing lack of proper permits and code violations. The city manager also reportedly told the ministry it would need to apply for a conditional use permit but that the chance of getting one approved was "a million to one." The City of Elgin has since refused to hold a hearing on the matter, leaving H.E.L.P.S. without a building from which to conduct its outreach. The ADF believes the ministry is being bullied, which is why it has filed suit against the Elgin officials, who are accused of discriminating against H.E.L.P.S.

Honduran Christian Leader In Hiding

Carlos Hernandez, president of the Association for a More Just Society in Honduras, is in hiding following a death threat, ASSIST News Service reports. Hernandez received the threat immediately after his associate, "attorney for the poor" Dionisio Diaz Garcia, was shot to death on his way to court on Monday, December 4th, Steve Geurink of Worldwide Christian Schools told Mission Network News. García was shot to death in his pickup by two masked gunmen on a motorcycle. His murder was the first time in years that a human rights advocate has been murdered in Tegucigalpa. Both men have ties to the ministry of Worldwide Christian Schools (WCS) in Honduras. Hernandez was meeting with church and community leaders, families, teachers and school boards in the capital city of Tegucigalpa about a Christian school improvement process, Geurink said. His success may have caused corrupt elements in the local government to feel threatened.