Faith in brief

50 names entered for Oral Roberts post

TULSA, Okla. &

More than 50 people have been suggested for or have shown interest in the Oral Roberts University presidency, according to the presidential search consultant.

School leaders hope to hire a new president by next summer, although consultant Bruce Dingman, president of The Dingman Co. Inc., said the university is not creating an artificial deadline for accepting resumes.

ORU is looking for a new leader following Richard Roberts' resignation last fall after intense publicity over lawsuits, which raised allegations he misspent university money and poorly managed the school &

allegations he denied.

The school's board of regents was replaced by a board of trustees, which is working to stabilize ORU's finances and institute shared responsibility among trustees, administrators and faculty.

Rhae Buckley, a member of the presidential search committee and chairman of the ORU Alumni Association board of directors, said he thinks the most important qualification is servant-leadership.

"It's important for ORU because that's the original vision: It was birthed under bringing God's word to the uttermost ends of the earth, so it's important that that continue," Buckley said.

The job description calls for a man or woman who has had a "significant leadership position in a fairly large, complex organization" and who is a good speaker, "devoted Christian," planner, visionary, team-builder and good fundraiser, among many more qualifications.

It also describes a president who would serve as a role model, "living a Spirit-filled life, practicing the prayer language."

The spiritual practice of speaking in tongues is common and encouraged at ORU. At the same time, "the president should not be denominationally focused, but rather, inclusive."

Maryland church to sue town


An Elkton, Md., church focused on serving the homeless is suing the town of Elkton because civil libertarians and church leaders say the town is hindering the church's expression of faith.

Carl Mazza, pastor of the Meeting Ground, said Elkton officials have blocked attempts by the church to open a day center for homeless men and women. The Mary Randall Empowerment Center would provide religious, employment and social needs for homeless men and women.

The church already owns property zoned for use by churches and businesses but Elkton's zoning board required the center to have a special zoning exception.

A statement from the American Civil Liberties Union said the zoning board isn't recognizing the center as a religious institution but instead as a social or philanthropic organization. When the Meeting Ground revised its application, the town zoning board denied it.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Scandal affects sale of kosher meat


A shortage of kosher meat in Nashville has been exacerbated by an immigration scandal at the country's largest kosher meatpacking plant, officials say.

Keeping kosher in Nashville has been tough in recent months because of rising fuel prices and a national shortage of kosher meat.

Then in May, federal officials arrested almost 400 workers on immigration charges at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa. The arrests at the Jewish-owned company have members of some Jewish congregations worried, as well as some butchers.

Peter Swerdlow, president of Griller's Pride, an Atlanta-based kosher butcher that delivers to Nashville, said his company only does business with companies that follow kosher standards and treat their employees well. Once news of the Agriprocessors raid hit, Swerdlow said, his company was bombarded with calls. In response, he sent a letter outlining his company's labor policies to customers.

"In terms of Griller's Pride labor practices," he wrote, "I am proud to state for the record that since our inception in 2004, every one of our staff have been paid and continue to be paid well above the minimum wage and are treated with the respect and dignity that every human being deserves."

"" The Associated Press

Swiss nationalists force popular vote on banning Muslim call-to-prayer minarets

BERN, Switzerland &

Switzerland will hold a nationwide referendum on whether to ban the construction of minarets where Muslims traditionally issue the call to prayer, officials said.

Swiss nationalists have collected enough signatures to force a vote on the ban, the Interior Ministry said.

Organizers backed by the nationalist Swiss People's Party and the fringe Federal Democratic Union say they are acting to fight the political spread of Islam. They argue that the minaret is a symbol of political and religious claim to power rather than a mere religious sign.

No date has been set for the referendum. If it is approved, the Swiss parliament must pass a law enshrining a construction ban in the constitution.

Minarets are tall spires typically built next to mosques where religious leaders call the faithful to prayer. More than 310,000 among Switzerland's 7.5 million population are Muslims, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

Opponents say such a ban would violate religious freedom.

The U.N. expert on racism, Doudou Diene, has said the campaign is evidence of an "ever-increasing trend" toward anti-Islamic actions in Europe.

President Pascal Couchepin said the government will recommend that voters reject the proposed ban. Several other members of Switzerland's cross-party government have spoken out against the ban.

At least 100,000 signatures are needed to put a popular initiative to a vote in Switzerland.

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