Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, known as the father of African literature, died on March 21 at 82. Achebe was most famous for his 1958 workThings Fall Apart, which The New York Times called “the To Kill a Mockingbird of African literature.” The book sold more than 10 million copies. Achebe, who was raised a Christian, spent the last decades of his life teaching at U.S. universities.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered a national apology on March 21 to thousands of unwed mothers who were forced to place their babies for adoption. Gillard denounced the Australian practice of taking newborns and placing them with married couples from the 1940s to the 1970s. She pledged $5 million to help affected families—a group of which gave her a standing ovation at the conclusion of her speech.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission announced March 26 that Russell D. Moore has been elected to replace outgoing president Richard Land. Moore, 42, is an author, commentator, and professor who since 2004 has served as dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Land announced last year that he would step down Oct. 23, completing 25 years as ERLC president.
Compassion International, a Christian relief agency serving poor children around the globe, has named Jim Mellado its new president. Mellado, who grew up in Latin America, has for 20 years been the president of the Willow Creek Association, an international organization helping local churches grow. He replaces outgoing Compassion president Wess Stafford, who has led the organization since 1993.
Frank Wright, president and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters, submitted his letter of resignation to the organization on March 18. Wright served as the head of NRB since 2003, but said he “prayerfully concluded that my season of service at NRB is drawing to a close.” His resignation will take effect Oct. 4.
British police are investigating the death of Boris Berezovsky, 67, an exiled Russian tycoon who was found dead at his mansion west of London. Initial reports suggested Berezovsky, a former billionaire and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, died of an apparent suicide, but authorities have not ruled out foul play. A member of Berezovsky’s staff discovered his body March 23 on his bathroom floor.
Vietnamese police are suspected of beating to death a Hmong church leader, Vam Ngaij Vaj, on March 17. Details are unconfirmed, but Vaj died in police custody after being arrested the previous day. Church leaders who examined the battered body suspect Vaj was also electrocuted—the autopsy report claimed he died of electric shock after sticking his hand in an electrical outlet.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott on March 26 called for an investigation into a college assignment requiring students to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper and then stomp on it. The incident occurred at Florida Atlantic University, and one student who refused to participate was punished with suspension. The university issued an apology, but Scott, a Republican, said he wants to ensure similar incidents won’t happen again at other Florida schools.