Oklahoma bishop deplores state execution plans
THE Bishop of Oklahoma, the Rt Revd Poulson Reed, has publicly opposed the decision by a state court to set execution dates for 25 prisoners on death row over the next two years, ENS reports. In an email to his diocese on Tuesday, Bishop Reed said that his position was “not overly partisan” but “deeply grounded in Christian theology”, citing passages from Genesis through to the Epistles. The state has a history of botched lethal injections which had led to a more than five-year moratorium pending lawsuits, until, in June, the Attorney General of Oklahoma asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to set the latest execution dates. The Bishop writes: “Given the current reality of our state’s criminal justice system, our shared convictions regarding the sanctity of human life and the proper function of state power lead us to call for an immediate moratorium on the death penalty in Oklahoma.” A further 25 church leaders in the state have signed his letter.
Church founder fights to protect worship site
THE founder of UP Wild Church (a nondenominational ministry of the diocese of Northern Michigan, in the United States), Lanni Lantto, is fighting to protect the natural area in which church members worship from becoming a commercial rocket launch site, ENS reports. The church holds nature prayer services and wilderness walks in the pine forests, inland lakes, and shores of Lake Superior, in the Upper Peninsula. The proposed Michigan Launch Initiative site would be built on private land directly adjacent to one of their worship sites. Environmental concerns of campaigners include threats such as toxic materials’ being spread over the area, failed rocket launches falling into Lake Superior, and the risk of a forest fire destroying the old-growth trees around the site.
Boston to pay $2m over Christian-flag case
THE city of Boston in the United States has agreed to pay more than $2.1 million to the Christian legal organisation Liberty Counsel, which backed the case brought by a conservative activist who had had his request to fly a Christian flag outside the City Hall refused. In May, the Supreme Court found that the city authorities had discriminated against the activist, Harold Shurtleff, because of his “religious viewpoint” when it refused his request to fly a white banner with a red cross on a blue background to mark Constitution Day in September 2017 (News, 6 May). Organisations can apply to have their flag temporarily replace the Boston city flag outside the hall. The settlement announced on Tuesday by Liberty Counsel covers attorneys’ fees and other costs associated with the legal battle, AP reports. Lower courts had upheld the City Hall’s decision.
Body exhumed against family’s wishes
A TRIBAL community in Antagarh, India, has exhumed the body of a 35-year-old Christian woman against her family’s wishes because of her conversion to Christianity, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports. The woman, Janki Sori, was buried in her family-owned land on 1 November; two days later, members of a tribal group known as the Sarv Adivasi Samaj exhumed her remains, claiming that their village belonged only to people who followed their religion and culture, which is primarily animist and is said to draw influence from Hinduism. The body was reburied in a nearby village.