Last year, for the first time in 16 years, the numbers of men and women enrolled in Protestant theological seminaries in this country declined slightly -- a fraction of 1 percent.
While the number of women students, which has skyrocketed since 1972, is still going up, last year's increase of 3 percent was the slowest rate of growth in more than a decade. Numbers of black, Hispanic and Asian-American students have continued to rise at a relatively steady pace.
William Baumgaertner, director of the Association of Theological Schools, blamed the overall decline on demographics -- declining numbers of young people in the usual age range of seminarians -- as well as "the broad American cultural influence which has been less than supportive of those opting to prepare for ordained ministry."
The theological commission of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has ruled that the Bible says God expects women to be subservient to men in the home as well as in church.
"The idea that God desires man to be the head of woman and woman to be subordinate to man is rooted deeply in the Old and New Testament," says the commission's report, "Women in the Church."
"Just as the wife should not be the 'head' of the house, so a woman should not be the 'head' over the household of God," say the theologians. Neither, they say, should women be allowed to read the scriptures in worship services nor assist in the distribution of communion, to "avoid confusion regarding the office of the public ministry and to avoid giving offense to the church."
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is in trouble with antiabortionists in Colorado for naming Colorado Gov. Richard D. Lamm (D) to an honorary post for the evangelist's 1987 Rocky Mountain Crusade.
The blunt-spoken governor made headlines in 1984 with a statement questioning how much money and effort should be allocated for the terminally ill. He also has supported public funding for abortion.
Lamm's appearance with Crusade leaders at a news conference earlier this month has been attacked by local and national antiabortion leaders who demand that Graham dissociate himself from Lamm.
Noting that Jesus "spent time with notorious public sinners," Washington antiabortion activist John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe said, "He did not begin the Sermon on the Mount with thanks to his friend Pontius, who has made the hill available and had helped to get folks out to hear His message."
If a bill pending in the Pennsylvania legislature goes through, applicants for marriage licenses in that state in the future will be asked for their "given name" instead of their "Christian" name.
"It's a matter of sensitivity," said Rep. Babette Josephs of Philadelphia, who said the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition had pointed out to her that the term "Christian name" was inappropriate for some citizens.
The Way International, a controversial Ohio-based cult founded about 25 years ago, reports a 10.7 increase in income last year for a total of $30 million.
Archbishop James A. Hickey will celebrate a special mass at 10 a.m Sunday to commemorate the beatification last November of Titus Brandsma, a Dutch Carmelite priest-journalist killed by the Nazis. Brandsma actively fought Nazi ideology both as ecclesiastical adviser to Dutch Catholic publications and a respected scholar. Subjected to so-called medical experiments by the Nazis, he died in Dachau concentration camp in 1942.