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c. 1996 Religion News Service

Naval Academy names its first professor of ethics

(RNS) Nancy Sherman, a professor of ethics at Georgetown University, has been named to fill the newly created ethics chair at the U.S. Naval Academy, the Navy’s education institution that has been scarred in recent years by incidents of cheating, drug use and sexual harassment.

Sherman, a specialist in ethics and character development, will assume the one-year post in January.”I couldn’t be more pleased,”Secretary of the Navy John Dalton said in making the announcement.”It is absolutely essential that our Navy and Marine Corps leaders possess the ethical foundation which will allow them to make tough decisions during their careers.” Sherman, who will teach a course in character development to the midshipmen, has written two highly acclaimed books,”The Fabric of Character”and”Making a Necessity of Virtue.”She holds a doctorate from Harvard University and has held teaching positions at Yale University, the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University as well as the Jesuit-run Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

She previously taught midshipmen on ethical theory and character development as a distinguished lecturer at the Naval Academy in 1994.

The 151-year-old Naval Academy has been plagued during recent years by a number of embarrassing ethical incidents. Most recently, a former student at the academy was indicted in a love-triangle killing in Texas after she allegedly told classmates at the Academy about the slaying.

There have also been widely publicized incidents involving cheating on exams and sexual harassment of women midshipmen.”Part of my role in assuming this chair … will be to ensure that there is adequate time in the busy schedule of midshipmen to reflect about their core values,”she said Tuesday (Dec. 3) at a Pentagon ceremony when her appointment was announced.

Sherman said the character development program is designed to help officers”reflect on the nature of their values, so that they may deepen them when they are appropriate and modify them when they fall short.”

Interracial couple marries months after dispute over dead child

(RNS) The interracial couple that was asked last spring to remove their infant’s body from an all-white Baptist church cemetery has gotten married.

On Nov. 25 the former Jaime Wireman, who is white, married Jeffrey Johnson, who is African-American, reported Associated Baptist Press, an independent Baptist news service.

In an interview with the Florida Times-Union, Jaime Johnson, 19, said the couple hopes the transition in their lives will mark a turning point from difficulties they have experienced since the dispute last March with officials of Barnetts Creek Baptist Church in Thomasville, Ga. The couple spent their last $29 on their marriage license.”I believe we’ll be blessed a little more when we’re married,”said Jaime Johnson, who added that she believes they had sinned by living together before they were married.”It says (in the Bible) when you’re married that blessings will come upon your head.” Jaime and Jeffrey Johnson, 26, fled their small Georgia community after the controversy with the church, which withdrew its request to disinter their infant daughter after receiving national media attention.

While living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jaime Johnson spent three months in jail on a strong-arm robbery charge before pleading guilty to a lesser charge of petty theft. She was arrested after a cousin of her husband stole more than $500 worth of sunglasses from a Wal-Mart store. She was sentenced to a year’s probation, but maintains her innocence.

The couple has returned to Thomasville but they have not had steady jobs.

NCC, employees’ union settle dispute

(RNS) The National Council of Churches and its employees’ union have settled a dispute concerning staff layoffs and the subcontracting of work to outside firms.

Before the agreement, announced Nov. 21, eight or nine union members expected to lose their jobs, said Jane Lowicki, president of the Association of Ecumenical Workers. Now, five positions have been lost, but four have been maintained and there is a possibility that a part-time position will continue, she said.”The reorganization of administrative and financial services … will result in administrative savings to the council while preserving several jobs that were scheduled to be eliminated,”reads a memorandum from Lowicki and the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, NCC general secretary.

The agreement also calls for a recognition of”staff who retired as a result of the NCC’s restructuring at an appropriate social function.” Lowicki said the recognition is important because some long-term employees were given short notice about their departures.”It’s been an awful environment to work here at the moment for everybody involved,”said Lowicki.”We’re really happy that we were able to come to this agreement.” The settlement came after one day of hearings before an arbitrator and before a second scheduled day of hearings.”Representatives of the union and management shared a desire to reach an amicable settlement and avoid further litigation and cost,”the memorandum stated.

The NCC, headquartered in New York City, is an ecumenical agency of 33 Protestant and Orthodox denominations. It has 336 staff members, including 80 union members, who work in New York or in 25 regional offices across the country.

Evacuation of Kurd employees of U.S. religious, aid agencies underway

(RNS) The first of some 5,000 Iraqi dissidents, mostly Kurds in danger from Saddam Hussein’s security forces because they worked for U.S. religious and humanitarian aid agencies, began crossing into Turkey on Wednesday (Dec. 4) en route to eventual resettlement in the United States.

The evacuation represents a major victory for humanitarian and religious groups who had been working in northern Iraq and who have been pressing hard for U.S. help in getting their employees out of northern Iraq.”I think what you are seeing here is the (Clinton) administration reacting to some intense pressure from the (aid) community,”said one diplomat close to the situation who spoke to reporters on the condition he not be named.

The Kurdish workers, who have been working with Western groups since the Gulf War in 1991, have faced the threat of retaliation since August, when Saddam sent troops into the region, which was supposedly protected by the United States and its Gulf War allies. The Iraqi troops went into the region at the invitation of the Kurdish Democratic Party, which wanted help in fighting a rival Kurd faction.

U.S. government personnel based in northern Iraq quickly exited the area in early September and were then followed by Western relief workers. Kurdish workers directly employed by”Operation Provide Comfort,”the U.S. government-led effort to aid the Kurds, were evacuated by U.S. troops but they left behind some 5,000 other Kurds who had worked for the Western non-governmental aid groups.

At the time, the U.S. government said the workers faced no real threat from Saddam.

Relief workers disagreed.

Kurdish workers are”closely identified with the Americans and are considered traitors by Saddam,”said Paul Smith, a Southern Baptist who worked in northern Iraq until his recent retirement.”We all know very well what Saddam will do with traitors.” On Nov. 25, the State Department acknowledged that it intended”to move forward with the departure from northern Iraq of local employees of U.S. funded and/or U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations and their family members.” But it did not say when the evacuation would begin.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that the first evacuations had begun. The workers will be taken to Guam and then re-settled in the United States.

Church Universal and Triumphant leaders end marriage

(RNS) Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the Church Universal and Triumphant and her husband, Edward Francis, are ending their 15-year marriage, the church announced.

They will continue their present church duties, church president Gilbert Cleirbaut said in a recent news release, the Associated Press reported. Both”will actively parent their 2 1/2-year-old son, Seth,”he added.

Francis, Prophet’s second husband, is executive vice president and responsible for legal and business affairs of the church. Prophet will continue lecturing, teaching and writing.

Prophet was president for 23 years until July, when she reliquished her post to concentrate on writing and teaching.

The Church Universal and Triumphant, which incorporates elements of Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism in its teachings, was founded in 1958 by Prophet’s late husband, Mark Prophet.

Quote of the day: Retired Air Force Gen. George Lee Butler

(RNS) Retired Air Force Gen. George Lee Butler was commander of the Strategic Air Command with responsibility for all U.S. strategic nuclear forces at the time of his retirement in 1991. In a speech Wednesday (Dec. 4) at the National Press Club, Butler spoke of his”long and arduous journey from staunch advocate of nuclear deterrence to public proponent of nuclear abolition.”Butler said he was well aware of arguments on the other side:”As for those who believe nuclear weapons desirable or inevitable, I would say these devices extract a terrible price even if never used. Accepting nuclear weapons as the ultimate arbiter of conflict condemns the world to live under a dark cloud of perpetual anxiety. Worse, it codifies mankind’s most murderous instincts as a legitimate basis of warfare.”


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