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foundation leaders named by Presi- dent Barack Obama to the White House Council for Community Solu- tions. This group will advise the presi- dent on ways to involve more people in solving community needs. LSA is an alliance of the ELCA, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and more than 300 health and human service organizations.

Believers’ gene? A British university study suggests that people of strong faith can spread religion through a “believers’ gene” that is part of their DNA. The Pro- ceedings of the Royal Society B, a prestigious journal of Britain’s Royal Society of scientists, theorizes a “pre- disposition toward religion.” Author Robert Rowthorn suggests that peo- ple with strong religious beliefs tend to have more children and this, com- bined with a genetic predisposition to believe, can explain the expansion of religion.

Ex-UCC president suspended John H. Thomas, former president of the United Church of Christ, has been suspended for one year and ordered to undergo a “program of growth” after admitting to an affair with a former co-worker. His ministerial standing will be reinstated “contingent upon completion of a prescribed program of growth.” Thomas left office in 2009 after serving as president for a decade. Last August, the church announced he was divorcing his wife and said “he has formed a relationship with another woman with whom he worked” within the Cleveland-based denomination.

King’s daughter says no

Fifteen months after being tapped to head the civil rights group founded by her father, Bernice King declined the post, citing a leadership clash and an inability to “move forward.” King’s

decision leaves the Southern Chris- tian Leadership Conference again fac- ing an uncertain future, a half century after it was founded to mobilize black churches in Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight against discrimination. “After numerous attempts to connect with the official board leaders on how to move forward under my leadership, unfortunately, our visions did not align,” King said in January.

Repeal doesn’t affect chaplains The repeal of the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay members won’t change policies related to chaplains, the Pen- tagon said. “There will be no changes regarding service member exercise of religious beliefs, nor are there any changes to policies concerning the chaplain corps of the military depart-

I also would have steered clear of politics. I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back, I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.

Evangelist Billy Graham, responding to

questions from Christianity Today magazine about whether he would do anything differ- ently if he could change past actions.

ments and their duties,” according to a six-page memo about implementing the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. It noted that chaplains will continue to be required to “care for all” and their First Amendment free- doms will remain unchanged.

10 


Baskets of hope After January flooding killed 16 people and affected more than 200,000

in Australia, Athol Pukallus, pastor, and Jill Shepherdson of Good News congregation, Brisbane, helped flood victims with some of the hundreds of “baskets of hope” gathered by other members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia. The denomination’s Queensland District office was also flooded. To help, visit

March 2011 9

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