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Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
The trustees at Abilene Christian University (ACU) have determined that Phil Schubert will retain his position as president even in the face of divorce proceedings for “irreconcilable differences.”
 
Schubert’s wife, Jamie, filed for divorce after 22 years of marriage. The couple has three young children. 
 
The Christian Chronicle, the official newspaper for newspaper for Churches of Christ, reports that Board Chairman Barry Packer shared the decision delivered that message in an email sent this week to the West Texas university's 400 faculty and staff members, a university spokesman confirmed. 
 
The full text of the email:
 
“Abilene Christian University president Dr. Phil Schubert and his wife, Jamie, have experienced challenges in their marriage, leading recently to divorce proceedings. The Board of Trustees is deeply saddened about the situation and its effect on their family. We believe the covenant of marriage is created by God. We also believe strongly in the power of grace in a broken world and the call to be peacemakers.
 
We have been in prayer for the Schubert family, the ACU community and for the trustees to have wisdom and discernment in reaching a decision regarding Dr. Schubert’s continued leadership of the university.
 
Our responsibility is to make decisions that best align ACU with its critical mission and Christ-centered heritage while ensuring its long-term success. Therefore, we’ve taken great steps to gain perspective on Dr. Schubert’s ability to be an effective leader in light of his present situation.
 
The trustees have agonized with the decision, praying fervently and investing significant time in dialogue. Based upon our discussions with Phil, we are confident he is a man of deep integrity, is pursuing God, and that his leadership will continue to bless ACU.
 
As a result, the Board of Trustees has concluded that we will continue to support Dr. Schubert in his role as president, while ensuring ACU’s mission is being fulfilled and its heritage upheld.
 
This is a highly personal matter for the Schubert family and we want to respect their privacy. Our hope is that the ACU community will support the board’s decision while continuing to pray for Phil and Jamie and their children, as well as for the trustees and our great university.”
 
Schubert, 45, has served the West Texas university since 2010. The Church of Christ affiliated institution has 4,500 students. 
 
 
Publication date: August 29, 2014
Muslims have reacted with horror to a sensational report revealing that 1,400 children were subjected to rapes, abductions and beatings by gangs of men, mostly of Pakistani origin, in the northern English town of Rotherham.
 
In the report, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham (1997-2013), lead author Alexis Jay writes that police and government officials turned a blind eye to the horrifying reports reaching them from abused children — almost all of them teenage girls — because of fear that, if widely known, they would stir up anti-Muslim feelings in Britain.
 
Muhbeen Hussain, founder of a British Muslim youth group in Rotherham, said the police and the town’s social services “totally failed us” by not taking action against gang members.
 
“We want the investigations to go back to 1997, cases reopened and prosecutions made, because these people aren’t convicted — they’re still on the streets,” he said.
 
There are approximately 8,000 Muslims living in Rotherham (population 257,000) and 2.8 million Muslims in the U.K.
 
“It’s definitely not racist to ask why the majority of Rotherham abusers were Asian men,” said Sajid Javid, culture secretary in Prime Minister David Cameron’s government. “How else will we learn from these awful crimes?”
 
In an Aug. 26 editorial, the conservative Daily Mail said the majority of British Asians are as horrified by the crimes committed in Rotherham as anyone else in Britain.
 
But it added: “But the inescapable conclusion is that the dictates of political correctness were placed above the duty to protect children against violent abuse. Could there be any more damning incitement of the warped priorities of British officialdom?”
 
 
Courtesy: Religion News Service
 
Publication date: August 29, 2014
The Catholic Church should make “unconventional couples” feel at home instead of making them targets of “de facto discrimination,” the leader of the Italian Bishops Conference and an ally of Pope Francis said this week.
 
“Couples in irregular matrimonial situations are also Christians, but they are sometimes looked upon with prejudice,” said Bishop Nunzio Galantino, an apparent reference to divorced and remarried Catholics.
 
“The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination,” he said Wednesday (Aug. 27) in an address to a national conference on liturgy in the Italian hill town of Orvieto.
 
Galantino was Francis’ choice in March to lead the fractious Italian hierarchy, and from the beginning the bishop has adopted the pontiff’s inclusive approach. That has often landed Galantino in hot water, as he has spoken about the need for the church to welcome gays and to consider optional celibacy for the priesthood.
 
But Galantino has not softened his views, which are especially newsworthy because in October the Vatican will host a major conference of the world’s top bishops, called a synod, to discuss issues facing the modern family.
 
How to deal with gay and cohabiting couples is a likely topic of discussion, but the question of whether Catholics who have divorced and remarried without an annulment can take Communion has emerged as a focal point of disputes among bishops.
 
That’s because the issue is a test case of whether the church under Francis will, or can, change its policies relating to the central sacrament of Communion. Some say such a change is impossible, while others say that changes are not only possible but imperative given that so many couples have divorced and remarried and feel alienated from the church.
 
Galantino’s remarks were widely reported in Italian media, including Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian hierarchy, and were translated by the Italian news agency ANSA.
 
In his talk, Galantino, who is secretary-general of the Italian Bishops Conference, stressed that everyone should “feel at home” in the church, and especially at Mass — including migrants, the disabled, the poor and those in unconventional relationships.
 
He spoke about the need for churches to make their buildings accessible for those with disabilities, for example, and said Catholics should take care that the poor are not treated differently from the wealthy at Mass.
 
But he appeared to send a strong message about divorced and remarried Catholics who are excluded from the sacraments.
 
“They live in their situation with great suffering,” he said, “and they perceive the church’s regulations as very severe, not compassionate if not punitive.”
 
 
Courtesy: Religion News Service
 
Publication date: August 29, 2014
A federal judge on Wednesday (Aug. 28) finalized the order striking part of Utah’s bigamy law and gave one more victory to the family from the TLC television show “Sister Wives.”
 
The long legal battle over polygamy in Utah now appears headed to the appeals courts. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has said he would appeal the federal court ruling that found the law against polygamy was unconstitutional.
 
“Sister Wives” chronicles the lives of Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn Brown and their children. Utah County authorities began their investigation of the polygamous family after their show debuted.
 
Jonathan Turley, the attorney for the Brown family,  encouraged Reyes to reconsider his plan to appeal.
 
Federal Judge Clark Waddoups in December struck the section of Utah’s bigamy statute that can be applied when someone “cohabits with another person” to whom they are not legally married. Utah law made such a union a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Waddoups said the ban violated the First and 14th amendments to the Constitution.
 
Waddoups let stand the portion of the statute that prevents someone from having more than one active marriage license.
 
In his ruling, Waddoups found the Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman violated the Browns’ constitutional rights when he oversaw a 2010 investigation into whether the Brown family was committing bigamy. At the time the Browns lived in Utah. They have since moved to Nevada.
 
Buhman eventually decided not to file criminal charges, but Waddoups said the investigation stifled the Browns’ rights to free speech, religion and equal protection.
 
Waddoups ordered Utah to pay the Browns’ attorney fees as a result of that finding.
 
In court filings and oral arguments before Waddoups, attorneys for Utah have argued polygamy is inherently harmful to woman and children and the state had an interest in deterring it.
 
The Browns filed their lawsuit in July 2011, arguing Utah’s law violated their right to privacy. The family’s argument relied primarily on the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the Texas law banning sodomy, which was celebrated by gay rights advocates.
 
 
(Nate Carlisle writes for The Salt Lake Tribune.)
 
Courtesy: Religion News Service
 
Publication date: August 29, 2014
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