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Religious Briefs

- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 11, 2007

Texas pastor tapped to succeed Haggard

COLORADO SPRINGS — A search committee at New Life Church is recommending that a Texas megachurch leader replace disgraced senior pastor Ted Haggard.

The committee has nominated the Rev. Brady Boyd for the job after conducting what it said were "dozens of hours of interviews" over eight months.

As part of the hiring process, Mr. Boyd, associate senior pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, will preach at New Life Sunday services leading up to Aug. 27, when church members will vote whether to accept him. Mr. Boyd must win a two-thirds majority to get the job.

Mr. Haggard was fired last year after a former male prostitute told of a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with him and said he saw the minister use methamphetamine. Mr. Haggard confessed to unspecified "sexual immorality" and said he bought meth but never used it. He also resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals in the wake of the scandal.

Romania to verify secret police files

BUCHAREST, Romania — A council overseeing state archives said Tuesday it will publish the names of any top Orthodox clerics who collaborated with Romania's former secret police, the Securitate, before the election of a new patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

"One of them will be the patriarch of the Orthodox Church and it would be a shame to discover later that he's a Securitate general," said Mircea Dinescu of the Council for Studying the Securitate Archives.

Patriarch Teoctist, who died on July 30 at the age of 92, will be replaced as head of the Romanian church this fall.

The state council will review the files and publish the names of any clerics who collaborated, said Dinescu, a former anti-communist dissident.

The church, which has resisted efforts in the past for the council to publish files regarding the priests, said it welcomed the review of clerics' files.

The election of the new patriarch next month is expected to be a choice between a conservative and a more reformist candidate. The Holy Synod chooses the candidates, who are then chosen by a church assembly including Orthodox clergy, laypeople and a few politicians.

Malaysians debate religious identity

LANGKAWI, Malaysia — The large Buddhist, Christian and Hindu minorities in Malaysia are increasingly expressing concern over their place in the majority Muslim country.

Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak upset minorities and civil rights groups by calling Malaysia an Islamic state. On Tuesday, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad weighed in, calling the country "not an Islamic state, neither are we a secular state. But by definition, as recognized by most international societies, Malaysia is an Islamic state."

Malaysia's Constitution does not clearly say whether the country is secular or theocratic, but states that Islam is the official religion. It also guarantees freedom of worship for non-Muslims.

Much of the debate over Malaysia's identity has been triggered by the reluctance of civil courts to make rulings in cases involving disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims. The courts have instead referred the cases to Shariah courts, which govern the conduct and lives of Muslims. The Shariah courts have invariably ruled in favor of the Muslims.

The most controversial case was that of Lina Joy, a woman born to Muslim parents who failed to get the Federal Court to recognize her conversion to Christianity. The court rejected her appeal to have the "Islam" tag removed from her national identity card in May, saying that only the Shariah court could rule on the matter.

From wire dispatches and staff reports