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Christian Churches Divided Over Ordination of Women

Under pressure to ordain women, many Christian churches, including the Church of England and American branches of the Roman Catholic Church, have faced vocal, internal divisions over the issue. Two more Christian churches have recently weighed in on the debate.

The council of the Lutheran World Federation has called on all member churches to facilitate the ordination of women following a controversial decision by the Lutheran archbishop of Latvia to stop ordaining women.

Proposing the resolution, Karsten Nissen of Denmark, chairperson of the church's committee for mission and development, said that despite progress by Lutheran churches, "several Lutheran churches still do not ordain women and, regrettably, one, which has done so in the past, has stopped."

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church, meanwhile, has rejected by a wide margin a proposal for ordaining women made by the church's North American Division, despite the fact the church is celebrating the Year of the Adventist Woman.

Only 673 of the 2,154 delegates gathered at the church's 56th World Session meeting in Utrecht, Netherlands, last week supported the proposal, which would have allowed the church's territorial divisions to ordain "qualified individuals, without regard to gender."

Argentina's Protestants seek equality with Roman Catholics

Argentina's Protestant churches have given their support to an inter-denominational campaign for a law to give non-Roman Catholic religious bodies equal status with the Roman Catholic Church.

Under Argentine law, the Roman Catholic Church has "natural legal status," meaning that its activities can never be regulated by the government.

But the government has introduced strict new regulations on the activities of non-Roman Catholic religious organizations after the failure of a parliamentary bill on religious freedom.

Protestant leaders say these regulations are part of a reaction to the growth of independent Protestant churches. Protestants account for only about 7 percent of Argentina's population of 2.5 million people, but membership has doubled in the past 10 years.

The new regulations are based on a law dating from the period of the military dictatorship, which placed restrictions on the expansion of non-Roman Catholic churches.

The Protestant leaders will concentrate their protests on regulations governing the opening of new places of worship.

Church, Bible have place in US lives

Americans who read the Bible regularly have a "higher overall satisfaction with their lives" than those who never read the Bible, according to an extensive survey commissioned by the American Bible Society. The ABS based its findings on a series of questions put to people about their views on religion, spirituality, morality and their daily lives.

The survey of 1,212 people in the US found that, on average, Americans go to church about as often as they go out for dinner, and more often than they read fiction, go to the cinema, or take part in competitive sports.

On average, 55 percent said they go to church at least once a week, while 53 percent go out to dinner, 27 percent read fiction, and 11 percent take part in sports. Only 9 percent go to the cinema at least once a week.

The survey also found that well-known quotes from the Bible were considered useful in articulating personal values. More than 85 percent of participants found the Golden Rule was useful: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Some 26 percent said the best rule for life was, "Look out for number one."

Twenty-four percent said they read the Bible daily, while 59 percent read it at least once a month. About 92 percent own a Bible. African-Americans are more frequent Bible readers than Hispanics and whites in the US; 57 percent of women read the Bible frequently, compared with 35 percent of men.

The survey coincided with the ABS's launch of the Contemporary English Version of the Complete Bible.

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