Weekly News Round Up, July 13, 2012

On Fridays, I post some of the more interesting articles I've come across throughout the week to help you keep current on what's happening in the the church, both in America and abroad. I also post up some fun things that I come across. I post these up to inform and get you thinking, not because I endorse the content.

Arizona pastor arrested, jailed for holding Bible study in home; his wife says it ‘defies logic’

Bible study leader Michael Salman is sitting in jail today after his home was raided earlier this week by more than a dozen Phoenix, Ariz. police officers and city officials. His offense? The city says people aren’t allowed to hold private Bible studies on their own property.

Christians evacuated from besieged Syrian city

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - A group of Christians trapped in the besieged, bombed-out Syrian city of Homs has been evacuated after a deal between the army and rebels, a priest involved in the evacuation efforts said Wednesday.

Maximos al-Jamal, a Greek Orthodox priest who has been following the plight of Syrian Christians in Homs, said 63 people were taken out to safety over the past 24 hours.

PCUSA narrowly rejects same-sex marriage

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) narrowly rejected, for now, a proposal to abandon the traditional definition of marriage on Friday, a year after it struck down a barrier to ordaining homosexuals.

The PCUSA General Assembly, meeting in Pittsburgh, voted 338-308 against changing how marriage was defined in the church constitution from a “civil contract between a woman and a man” to a “covenant between two people.” The assembly also rejected measures that would have affirmed a traditional definition of marriage or sought more theological study of the issue.

Episcopal Church approves same-sex blessing rite

Episcopalians approved a churchwide ceremony Tuesday to bless same-sex couples, the latest decisive step toward accepting homosexuality by a denomination that nine years ago elected the first openly gay bishop.

At the Episcopal General Convention, which is divided into two voting bodies, about 80 percent of the House of Deputies voted to authorize a provisional rite for same-sex unions for the next three years. A day earlier, the House of Bishops approved the rites 111-41 with three abstentions during the church meeting in Indianapolis.

Episcopal Church clears way for transgender ordination

A legislation that opens the door to transgender ordination passed its final hurdle on Monday and was approved by leaders in The Episcopal Church. The measure passed both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.

The Episcopal General Convention voted to amend church laws to state: "No one shall be denied rights, status or access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disabilities or age."

Saudis to send 2 women to London Games

LONDON (AP) - Every country competing at the London Games will include female athletes for the first time in Olympic history after Saudi Arabia agreed Thursday to send two women to compete in judo and track and field.

The move by the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom to break with its practice of fielding male-only teams followed decisions by Qatar and Brunei to send women athletes to the Olympics for the first time.

‘Jesus was a Muslim’: Religion professor makes unbelievable argument

Jesus Christ is pretty unquestionably the central figure of Christianity. His name is where the religion comes from, after all, and the story of Christ allowing himself to be killed by the local Roman government as penance for the sins of humanity is integral to the entire ethical system underlying Christian thought.

However, Robert F. Shedinger, a professor at Iowa’s Luther College, has a different argument. He thinks Jesus was actually…a Muslim. Yes, really. In fact, he wrote a book explaining all about it.