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Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 13, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 13, 2009

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

  • San Francisco Presbytery Permits Ordination of Lesbian
  • Convictions Few for Anti-Christian Violence in Orissa, India
  • NGOs Sound Alarm over UN 'Defamation of Religion'
  • Anglican and Catholic Heads to Meet in Rome

San Francisco Presbytery Permits Ordination of Lesbian

Religion News Service reports that, after a lengthy battle, a San Francisco lesbian is a step closer to being ordained as a clergywoman in the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Presbytery of San Francisco voted Tuesday (Nov. 10) to permit the ordination of Lisa Larges, 46, after she stated under a "scruple" policy that she objects to the PCUSA's rules preventing ordination of gays. Ministerial candidates in the PCUSA are required to be in faithful heterosexual marriages or remain celibate, but gay activists say there have been gay ordinations that have gone unchallenged. The vote permitting her ordination -- 156-138, according to the San Francisco Chronicle -- is expected to be appealed. The presbytery also voted to validate her role as ministry coordinator of That All May Freely Serve, a San Francisco-based group that advocates for full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the PCUSA.

Convictions Few for Anti-Christian Violence in Orissa, India

Compass Direct News reports that Christians in Orissa, India, are losing heart to strive for justice, according to a prosecuting attorney. The acquittal of six suspects last week raises the total to 121, with just 27 convicted in the Orissa violence by Hindu extremists. "The victims are so discouraged due to the increasing number of acquittals that they neither have hope nor motivation for the criminal revision of their cases in the higher court," attorney Bibhu Dutta Das of the Orissa High Court told Compass. He said the acquittals are the result of intentionally defective investigations by police trying to cover up the crimes of Hindu extremists. An Orissa state Member of Legislative Assembly who was facing charges in 14 cases of "murder, burnings and assaults" in last year's Kandhamal district violence against Christians has been released on bail in one of the murder cases.

NGOs Sound Alarm over UN 'Defamation of Religion'

Nearly 100 NGOs, including Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), have signed a statement decrying the ongoing "Defamation of Religion" agenda at the United Nations amid fears that a new, legally-binding international treaty limiting the criticism of religion may become a reality. And these NGOs represent a vast interfaith coalition - Christian, Muslim and Jewish organizations as well as humanist and secular groups from around the world have joined. They argue that "unlike traditional defamation laws, which punish false statements of fact that harm individual persons, measures prohibiting the `defamation of religions' punish the peaceful criticism of ideas". Pakistan and Nigeria have declared in a UN meeting that they are seeking a new legally-binding treaty that would enforce limits on freedom of expression with regard to religion, signifying a bold new development according to the Washington DC-based Becket Fund.

Anglican and Catholic Heads to Meet in Rome

Religion News Service reports that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will meet with Pope Benedict XVI on Nov. 21, the latest gesture in a four-decade-long effort to achieve unity between their churches. But some Catholics and Anglicans fear the future of that endeavor could be jeopardized by the Vatican's plans, announced last month (Oct.), to make it easier for Anglicans to convert to Catholicism. Former Anglicans, many of whom are upset by their church's growing acceptance of female clergy and homosexuality, will be allowed to join special Catholic dioceses while retaining many of their traditional prayers and hymns, and to a limited extent a married priesthood. Williams, spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, will visit Rome for five days (Nov. 18-22) of meetings and events aimed at "keeping alive the ecumenical endeavor," said his Vatican envoy, the Very Rev. David Richardson. He noted that Williams's visit to Rome was scheduled before the Vatican rolled out its welcome to Anglican dissidents.