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 ...

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