• Police in Eritrea arrested at least 40 pastors, elders, and leading laymen from five of the country's banned Protestant churches, Compass Direct reported in January. Police also shut down the capital city's main source for Christian music and books and jailed all 15 people in the store. The U.S. government announced in September they would impose sanctions against the African nation to stop the military from incarcerating, harassing, and repressing religious persons.

The Supreme Court ruled on January 17 that the U.S. attorney general does not have the authority to prohibit using federally controlled drugs to assist suicide. The 6-3 ruling allows Oregon to implement its 1997 physician-assisted suicide bill.

Lonnie Latham resigned from the Southern Baptist Convention executive committee, which guides the country's largest Protestant denomination, two days after his January 3 arrest for offering to engage in an act of lewdness. Latham, who also resigned as pastor of the 1,571-member South Tulsa Baptist Church, allegedly attempted to solicit a male undercover police officer for oral sex. He faces up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine if convicted.

• The Supreme Court let stand a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that allows AmeriCorps to use federal money to place teachers in religious schools. The American Jewish Congress had argued that the grant program crossed the line between church and state by paying $4,725 toward further education or student debt relief for each teacher AmeriCorps places in both secular and religious schools.

• A Texas court of appeals dismissed a $136 million libel lawsuit against Harvest House Publishers. The Local Church and its publishing arm, Living Stream Ministry, had filed the lawsuit in December 2001 in relation to John Ankerberg and John Weldon's Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions. The appellate court's January 5 decision said that critical statements in the 1999 book are "not defamatory" and reversed a lower court's judgment favoring the Local Church.

Related Elsewhere:

More Christianity Today articles on Eritrea are available on our full coverage page.

Compass Direct has more reports on Eritrea.

A larger CT article on the Supreme Court assisted-suicide ruling is available on our website.

Baptist Press has an article on Lonnie Latham.

The Associated Press has more information on the Supreme Court decision to allow AmeriCorps to place teachers in religious schools.

Harvest House Publishers has a statement on the dismissal of the Living Stream Ministry's lawsuit. Law.com has a copy of the decision, and response from Living Stream is available at localchurch-vs-harvesthouse.com.

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