—Operation Rescue National director Flip Benham began serving a six-month jail sentence February 18 after being convicted of trespassing at E. C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, Virginia. On November 10, Benham led 150 Liberty University students in distributing anti-abortion literature and Christian tracts. Benham refused to leave after police informed him the demonstration posed a threat to public safety.
—An Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) disciplinary committee stripped the clergy credentials of Ames, Iowa, pastor Steve Sabin on February 3 after an ecclesiastical trial. The panel determined that Sabin, 38, can no longer lead Lord of Life Lutheran Church, because he is engaged in homosexual activity. ELCA rules allow homosexual clergy to be ordained only if they take a vow of celibacy. Sabin has been pastor of the 150-member congregation since 1985. He and his wife divorced in 1990, and he now lives with a man he met via the Internet. Sabin appealed the ELCA decision on March 4.
—Carmen Pate has been promoted to president of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the nation's largest women's organization with 600,000 members. The post had been vacant since CWA founder Beverly LaHaye stepped down two years ago. LaHaye, 71, remains board chair of the organization she started in 1979. Pate, 43, joined CWA as vice president in 1996. The two women continue to cohost Beverly LaHaye Live, a 30-minute daily radio program.
—Embattled National Baptist Convention USA president Henry Lyons, 55, was charged February 25 with two counts of grand theft and one count of racketeering. State prosecutors accuse Lyons of diverting hundreds of thousands of church dollars into a secret bank account for personal use. Also charged is convicted embezzler Bernice Edwards, a former denominational employee. Lyons has survived several denominational no-confidence votes in the midst of criminal investigations (CT, Oct. 27, 1997, p. 102).
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