- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lutherans to give statement on sex

CHICAGO — The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will soon release a draft of its social statement on human sexuality, including proposed teaching on homosexual relationships.

The document “Free in Christ to Serve the Neighbor: Lutherans Talk About Human Sexuality” is scheduled to be made public on March 13 by the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality.

Like many other Protestant groups, the ELCA has been struggling for decades to reconcile different views of what the Bible says about same-sex relationships.

Current church standards require clergy to “abstain from homosexual sexual relationships.” But last year the Churchwide Assembly adopted a resolution that “urges and encourages” bishops to refrain from disciplining clergy in “faithful, committed” same-sex relationships.

The 2.5 million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, based in St. Louis, believes the Bible is literally true and does not ordain homosexuals.

Malaysian airport confiscates Bibles

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A church federation slammed Malaysian customs officials for seizing 32 Bibles, saying the incident shows the Muslim-majority country is becoming less tolerant of other religions.

The Royal Malaysian Customs department said it was only trying to determine whether the Bibles were imported for commercial purposes.

“It’s the normal procedure,” said Iskandar Jaafar, a customs department spokesman.

Custom officials at an airport in Kuala Lumpur took the Bibles from a Malaysian woman Jan. 28 on her return from the Philippines, said the Rev. Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia.

The woman was told that all religious materials have to be sent to the Internal Security Ministry’s publications control unit for clearance, he said.

Mr. Shastri said he had never heard of anyone being told to do this when bringing English-language Bibles into the country.

“It’s getting from bad to worse,” he told the Associated Press. “This either points to a concerted effort to undermine the current practice of religious tolerance, or the religious-enforcement authorities have been given a free hand and they are having a field day.”

The council called on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to publicly reassure Christians of their rights. Malaysian law forbids proselytizing out of Islam, although Muslims are allowed to convert people to Islam.

Baltimore native to lead institute

The Rev. Charles Sikorsky will be installed this weekend as president of the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, a Catholic graduate school based in Arlington. A Mass and inauguration ceremony will be at 3 p.m. today at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Prior to his appointment at IPS, Father Charlesstudied in Rome, where he finished his licentiate in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University and earned degrees in philosophy and theology from thePontifical University Regina Apostolorum. He received a bachlor of arts degree in political economy from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from the University of Maryland.

A reception will be at 6 p.m. at the John Paul II Cultural Center across the street from the shrine in Washington.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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