Activist and author Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners magazine, noted sadly that 17,000 people had signed a petition to the White House in late November asking President Obama to lead a different kind of “surge” in Afghanistan that relied more on diplomacy and humanitarian assistance than on military escalation.
Although two celebrations of 50 years of dialogue between Russian Orthodox and German Protestant churches were canceled suddenly in a dispute over the election of a woman as Germany’s senior Protestant leader, a Russian church official says that academic conferences may become a way to continue ecumenical relations.
Facing what they consider “threats” from American culture, prominent Cath olic, evangelical and Orthodox leaders are vowing unspecified civil disobedience against abortion, same-sex marriage and limits on religious liberty.
Speaking in Vatican City a month after the Vatican unveiled plans to facilitate the conversion of conservative Anglicans to Catholicism, Arch bishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams offered a moderately hopeful assessment of ecumenical relations between the two churches.
Lutheran dissidents said in late September they would hunker down for a year and study whether to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Amer ica and create a new church body. But in mid-November, Lutheran CORE (Co alition for Renewal) announced that such a body will likely be necessary sooner.
Disgraced evangelist Tony Alamo has been sentenced to 175 years in prison for child sexual abuse, with a judge warning him about facing future judgment from a higher authority. “Mr. Alamo, one day you will face a higher and a greater judge than me,” U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes told Alamo November 13 at a Texarkana, Arkansas, court, the Associated Press reported.
A Swiss vote to ban the construction of minarets at Muslim houses of worship sent ripples of surprise and dismay across Europe and Islamic countries at the end of November, even as opponents vowed to challenge the results.
Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of the community service group Interfaith Youth Core, has become the first Muslim to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Religion from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Sem inary and the University of Louisville.
In October, Lutheran Bishop Margot Kässman of Hanover, Germany, was elected as the first woman and, at 51, the youngest cleric to head the Evan gelical Church in Germany (EKD), an umbrella body of Protestant churches with 24 million members.
In a statistical report that likened its declining numbers to those of ecumenical Protestant denominations, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod said that its baptized membership fell in 2008 by 45,735 members to a total of 2.33 million.