On the Books

Turkmenistan, a heavily Muslim former Communist state in Central Asia, has begun registering Protestant congregations. More than five years after bulldozing a Seventh-day Adventist Church building in Ashkhabad, in June authorities recognized the presence of 60 Adventists in the country of 4.7 million. On May 13 a presidential decree decriminalized "the practice of unauthorized religious activities." It lowered the number of adherents needed for registration from 500 to 50.

Banning the Ban

Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on June 1 issued a permanent injunction against the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. The injunction applies primarily to abortion provider Planned Parenthood's 900 clinics. The case, in which fetal pain is a key part of the government's case, is one of three in which the Bush administration is defending the ban (CT, June, p. 17). On May 20, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act.

Baylor's Sloan at Risk

The Baylor University regents, in an 18-17 secret ballot, defeated a motion to ask president Robert Sloan to resign at the board's May meeting on the Waco, Texas, campus. Sloan has survived other recent challenges to his leadership by substantial margins. Critics say Baylor faces a financial crisis associated with the costly Baylor 2012 expansion program. In order to balance its budget for the past two years, Baylor has drawn down $7.5 million of "quasi-endowment" funds. Sloan defenders say the budget problems are clearly manageable, and that the critics are really after Sloan because of his vision to make Baylor a more intentionally Christian university. At their July meeting, regents may re-examine the 2012 plan and timeline.

Related Elsewhere:

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has listed Turkmenistan as a country of particular concern. The commission says, "Turkmenistan is among the most repressive states in the world today and engages in particularly severe violations of religious freedom."

Articles elsewhere on Judge Phyllis Hamilton's decision against the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act include:

Judge rejects limits on abortion | Law criminalizing 'partial-birth' procedure called unconstitutional, threat to women (San Francisco Chronicle)
Judge Blocks Partial-Birth Abortion Ban | A federal judge Tuesday ruled that President Bush's Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is unconstitutional and infringes on a woman's right to choose. (Fox News)
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The National Right to Life Committee released a statement saying the judge held "deep hostility" to the law and showed it throughout the proceedings. NRLC also maintains extensive documentation about partial-birth abortion.

Christianity Today's earlier coverage of The Battle for Baylor includes:

Weblog: Baylor Regents to Assess Expansive Vision | Will Baylor University regents vote on Sloan again? (July 19, 2004)
Weblog: Presbyterian Pastor Killed While Preaching in Indonesia | Plus: Sloan opponents say they have enough regents' votes to oust Baylor president, RQ's offspring, Kristof's at it again, and many other stories from online sources around the world. (July 20, 2004)
2012: A School Odyssey | Baylor strives to go where no Christian university has gone before—in ten years (Nov. 22, 2002)
Weblog: Baylor Regents to Assess Expansive Vision | Will they vote on Sloan again? (July 19, 2004)
Baylor Reaps the Enlightenment Whirlwind | Ultimately, the challenge to creating a top-level Christian research university lies in combating individualism gone awry. (Oct. 07, 2003)
Christian History Corner: Breaking Down the Faith/Learning Wall | How the history of Christians in higher education has stacked the deck against Robert Sloan's "new Baylor" (Sept. 19, 2003)
Weblog: Baylor Regents Overwhelmingly Support President | After a very bad week at Baylor, good news for Sloan's vision of Christian higher education (Sept. 12, 2003)
Weblog: Showdown at Baylor, Continued | Baylor U.'s sports troubles leak into school's religion debate (Aug. 1, 2003)
Weblog: Showdown at Baylor | Baylor's president faces off against critics this week amid multiple controversies (July 18, 2003)
Design Interference | William Dembski fired from Baylor's Intelligent Design center (Nov. 28, 2000)
Unintelligent Designs | Baylor's dismissal of Polyani Center director Dembski was not a smart move (Oct. 23, 2000)
Books & Culture Corner: Defending Faith and Learning | Baylor University's Polanyi Center comes under fire from the university's faculty (Apr. 24, 2000)

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