People

Bob Jones III, the chancellor of Bob Jones University, a conservative Christian school in Greenville, South Carolina, has endorsed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for president. “As a Christian I am completely opposed to the doctrines of Mormonism,” Jones told the Greenville News October 16. “But I’m not voting for a preacher. I’m voting for a president. It boils down to who can best represent conservative American beliefs, not religious beliefs.” Jones, whose school is in a state that is pivotal because of its early Republican primary in the 2008 elections, said he opposes presidential front-runners former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Senator Hillary Clinton because both support abortion rights. “This is all about beating Hillary,” said the grandson of the school’s founder.

Richard Roberts, the embattled president of Oral Roberts University, will take an indefinite leave of absence but expects to return to the post “in God’s timing,” he said October 17. Five days later his father, who founded the Tulsa, Oklahoma, university, appeared on campus for the first time in three years, telling students and employees in a chapel service that “the devil is not going to steal ORU.” Oral Roberts, 89, who has been living in southern California, said he has moved back to Tulsa. Accusers have charged that Richard Roberts and his wife, Lindsay, misspent university funds lavishly and improperly meddled in a local political race.

Leith Anderson, 63, a Minnesota megachurch pastor who has twice served as interim president of the National Association of Evangelicals, was formally named president on October 11. The senior pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Anderson was named interim president in November 2006 following the resignation of former Colorado Springs pastor Ted Haggard, who was brought down in a sex and drug scandal.

Gerald Renner, a former editor of Religion News Service and religion writer for the Hartford Courant, died October 24 of cancer. He was 75. Known for both serious journalism and offbeat stories, Renner continued his writing career after retiring from the Connecticut newspaper in 2000. He coauthored with Jason Berry the book Vows of Silence: Sexual Crisis and Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II in 2004. “He was a grand balance of principled reporter and delightful gentleman,” said Berry. Renner was RNS editor from 1980 to 1984, after becoming managing editor in 1976—years during which the news service was based in New York as an independent agency of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.