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Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 4, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 4, 2009

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

  • Lesbian Bishop Candidate Fails in Minn.
  • Philippines: Typhoons Knock Churches' Relief Work
  • Child Sacrifice on the Rise in Uganda
  • Land, Religious Leaders: Sanctions Needed on Iran

Lesbian Bishop Candidate Fails in Minn.

Religion News Service reports that the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota averted controversy on Saturday by electing a heterosexual church leader rather than a lesbian Chicago priest as its next bishop. The Rev. Brian Prior, of Spokane, Wash., was elected in the fifth round of voting, according to the diocese. The Rev. Bonnie Perry, who would have been the first openly partnered lesbian to serve as bishop in the Episcopal Church, withdrew after the third round. Prior, 50, has been vice president of the House of Deputies, one of two legislative bodies in the Episcopal Church's General Convention.
When consecrated as bishop, Prior will join the other body, the House of Bishops. The Episcopal Church voted to lift a de facto ban on gay bishops last summer, after the election of an openly gay man as bishop of New Hampshire led to widespread dissension in the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the communion and the only province with an openly gay bishop.

Philippines: Typhoons Knock Churches' Relief Work

Christian Today reports that disaster recovery in the Philippines keeps getting knocked off its feet. After the fourth storm in four weeks hit the Philippines, relief groups have had to extend their initial efforts beyond their normal scope. "Four weeks after a typhoon we are usually heading toward the rehabilitation phase," reported Minnie-Anne Calub of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. "This is the first time we have had a series of typhoons," she added. "We thought we would be terminating the relief phase after two or three weeks but because of the continuous typhoons, rains and floods, the water won't subside and people can't go home." The last storm, Mirinae, also hit Vietnam on Monday, forcing more than 80,000 people to evacuate.

Child Sacrifice on the Rise in Uganda

Mission News Network reports that the brutal, old-world practice of human sacrifice is rising again in Uganda. Possibly fueled by famine, at least 23 have died in ritual sacrifices this year, many of them children. "The numbers have increased," said Lee DeYoung with Words of Hope, "and at least in some cases, those have been the bodies of children of believers." DeYoung said the church is trying to combat the horrific practice partially via radio broadcasts. "The church is being mobilized to speak against this terrible evil. When a child is executed in this kind of ritual sacrifice fashion, it is a violation of Ugandan law. However, human trafficking is less clearly prohibited in the legal code." Uganda's government has implemented a special task force on human sacrifice, but few perpetrators have been found.

Land, Religious Leaders: Sanctions Needed on Iran

Baptist Press reports that Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land has joined Jewish and evangelical Christian leaders in New York in calling for immediate sanctions to thwart Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission collaborated with Paul de Vries, president of the New York Divinity School and leader of the New York Evangelicals, and Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, in issuing a statement Nov. 2 urging all governments to apply sanctions in order to produce effective diplomacy and encourage the human rights efforts of Iranians living under a militant Islamic regime. These leaders recommended sanctions on banks that work even indirectly with Iranian banks and on firms and government that export refined petroleum to Iran. "Such actions could quickly damage Iran's economy, shrink the regime's domestic popularity, provoke real diplomacy, and engender significant steps toward ending the Iran regime's murderous pursuit of nuclear weapons," their statement said.