Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Homosexual Pastor Third in Succession for UMC Church in Seattle
- Vietnam: Police Arrest Nguyen Hong Quang
- Sudanese Christian Woman Subjected to Whipping Under Islamic Law
- Official Pleads with Christians to 'Vote their Values'
Homosexual Pastor Third in Succession for UMC Church in Seattle
Jim Brown, Agape Press
Thanks to a vote of confidence from her bishop, yet another homosexual pastor has been named to lead a Seattle United Methodist Church. Bishop Elias Galvan of the Pacific Northwest Conference is appointing Katie Ladd, an openly homosexual minister, to head Seattle's Woodland Park United Methodist Church. Three years ago Ladd publicly announced she was homosexual, but refrained from saying she was a practicing lesbian. Conservative activist Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy says Ladd and Galvan are showing disdain for church law and for Bible teaching on homosexuality. "Katie Ladd has publicly announced her [sexual] orientation and apparently has affirmed that as a gift of God," Tooley says. "So clearly she did not affirm United Methodist beliefs." A spokeswoman for the Pacific Northwest Conference told The Seattle Times that Galvan and his cabinet are "not aware of any reason that Katie Ladd is not fully appointable [sic] within the church" -- and that during the selection process, Ladd's sexual orientation was never "the topic of conversation." And one Woodland Park parishioner told the Times that Ladd's sexual orientation is "simply a non-issue" for the congregation. But Tooley has concerns about Ladd's sermon material. "Her preaching likely will not be centered on the gospel, but will be focused on other causes," he predicts. Ladd is the third openly homosexual pastor to serve at Woodland Park. She is scheduled to begin her new position on July 1.
Vietnam: Police Arrest Nguyen Hong Quang
Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang, a religious liberty activist and Mennonite church leader, was arrested on June 8. His home at the Mennonite church and office in Ho Chi Minh City's District 2 was ransacked, and officers seized personal papers, legal documents, money, computers and human rights files. Leaders of the Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship (VEF) believe one or more of the four Mennonite church workers arrested on March 2 may have cracked under torture and provided "evidence" to arrest Quang. Rev. Quang has called attention to the illegal detention and abuse of the church workers still being held without formal charges more than three months after their arrest. Quang's legal training and ceaseless confrontations of injustice have led Vietnamese officials to identify him as a particularly tenacious adversary. He believes that authorities have made at least four attempts on his life.
Sudanese Christian Woman Subjected to Whipping Under Islamic Law
In Khartoum, Sudan, a young Christian woman was fined and whipped for not wearing the hijab (headscarf) in public after a group of public-order policemen arrested her when she travelled home from work on 13 April. Cecilia John Holland, 27, boarded a minibus at Badr Gardens to travel to her home in the suburb of Haj Yousif on the evening on 13 April when she was arrested. About 10 police forced the bus to stop and dragged her from it. Her hair was uncovered in Khartoum temperatures of 100-105 degrees F. The group of policemen forced her into their vehicle, striking her in the process. When more were arrested they were taken to a police station and held overnight. The next morning, Cecilia was taken to Islamic Court where the Muslim policemen testified against her. She was not allowed to make any kind of statement or speak in her own defence. Cecilia is one of more than two million non-Muslim southerners in and around the capital Khartoum who have been displaced as a result of the 21-year civil war. The Islamic court declared Cecilia guilty and sentenced her to 40 lashes on the back and fined her 10,000 dinars, equivalent to one third of her monthly salary. Earlier, the government insisted that all Sudanese citizens residing in Khartoum would be under shari'a (Islamic law). The police told Cecelia that no one, "not even a non-Muslim" was exempt from the Islamic dress code.
Official Pleads with Christians to 'Vote their Values'
At a recent Capitol Hill summit, a Republican official told young conservatives it is crucial that Christians vote their values in this year's upcoming elections. According to an Associated Press report, Republican National Committee's Drew Ryun addressed the Eagle Forum Collegians Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., saying the Bible clearly teaches that Christians should be morally opposed to abortion and homosexual marriage and should vote accordingly. "The Bible speaks very clearly on those and how we are to act on those issues," Ryun says. The son of Kansas Congressman Jim Ryun told his audience the Bible is the "foundation upon which to build the rest of our lives," but that a growing effort to silence churches on moral issues is under way. The GOP's grassroots development director also told the crowd that this year's election will be a clash of world views between "postmodern relativists who believe that anything goes," and those Americans "who believe in absolute truth."