Update on the latest religion news

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Updated: Mon, 16 Dec 2013 04:16:32 EST


Author-editor: Most media misreport religion

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Christian journalist says most reporters do a poor job covering religion out of either ignorance or animosity.

WORLD news service editor Warren Cole Smith told a gathering at the Heritage Foundation that most reporters lack the theological knowledge to differentiate between the Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and the Rev. Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church.

Smith added that some biased reporters are pleased to present Phelps — whose anti-gay church pickets soldiers' funerals — or Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones as representative of evangelical Christianity.

Such bias, he said, can result from reporters only interacting with colleagues and friends who share their secular views.

Smith is co-author with Marvin Olasky of "Prodigal Press: Confronting the Anti-Christian Bias of the American News Media."

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Obamas get into holiday mood at benefit concert

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obamas are immersed in the holiday spirit.

On Sunday night, President Barack Obama and his family attended the 32nd annual "Christmas in Washington" concert to benefit the Children's National Health System.

After an evening of Christmas carols at the National Building Museum, the president said Americans should remember Jesus Christ's lessons of charity and compassion.

Obama said "Through his example, he taught us that we should love the Lord, love our neighbors, as we love ourselves. It's a teaching that has endured for generations. And today, it lies at the heart of my faith and that of millions of Americans, and billions around the globe."

The president added that "No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we worship, it's a message of hope and devotion that can unite all of us this holiday season."

Before the concert began, the president, his wife, Michelle, and daughters, Sasha and Malia, helped collect presents for patients at Children's National Medical Center in Washington. They also met five of the hospital's young patients.

The star-studded concert will air Friday evening on TNT.


Mystery man gives 'Tips For Jesus' — up to $10,000

NEW YORK (AP) — Restaurant workers around the country are being photographed with huge smiles on their faces — holding up receipts with tips of up to $10,000.

Each tab is stamped with the handle @tipsforjesus and bears an illegible signature.

The anonymous tipster has left his trail of generosity coast to coast and even in Mexico. A waiter in Phoenix beams looking at his $2,500 tip. And a $111.05 New York restaurant check includes a $1,000 tip and the words "god bless!" scrawled across it.

Photos of the outlandish tips are posted on the Instagram account "Tips for Jesus" that has more than 50,000 followers. The feed comes with the tagline, "Doing the Lord's work, one tip at a time."

The tipster has yet to come forward. Meanwhile, he's keeping everyone guessing.

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154-v-33-(Julie Walker, AP correspondent)--Some very lucky restaurant workers in cities around the country are taking to the internet to show off their very big tips, some as high as $10,000, all from a man who uses the handle @tipsforjesus. AP correspondent Julie Walker reports. (15 Dec 2013)

<<CUT *154 (12/15/13)££ 00:33


Pope: I knew good Marxists; label doesn't hurt me

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is shrugging off the "Marxist" label that some ultra-conservatives might apply to him because he frets that economic growth doesn't always help the poor.

In an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa, Francis is quoted as saying: "Marxist ideology is wrong." But the Argentina-born pontiff added he has "known many Marxists who were good persons," so he doesn't feel offended by the label.

Last week in New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan observed that in Argentina the future pope "had seen the excesses of both the far right and the far left when it comes to economic systems."

Pope Francis also told La Stampa that plans are proceeding for his Holy Land trip next year. Dolan says that will likely be in May.

Sound: (3:06 a.m. audio feed)


Pope's crackdown on order alarms traditionalists

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis may have been named Time magazine's Person of the Year, but he has come under scathing criticism from some traditionalist Catholics for cracking down on a religious order that celebrates the old Latin Mass.

The matter concerns the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, a small but growing order of several hundred priests, seminarians and nuns that was founded in Italy in 1990 as an offshoot of the larger Franciscan order of the pope's namesake, St. Francis of Assisi.

Then-Pope Benedict XVI launched an investigation into the congregation after five of its priests complained that the order was taking on an overly traditionalist bent, with the old Latin Mass being celebrated more and more at the expense of the liturgy in the vernacular.

Benedict, a great admirer of the pre-Vatican II Mass, had relaxed restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass in 2007.


Egypt: 3 Christians sentenced for killing Muslim

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian judicial official says a criminal court has convicted three Christians of killing a Muslim man in a dispute that set off some of the country's worst sectarian violence this year and left nine dead.

The official said the court sentenced one Christian man to life imprisonment, and two others to 15 years for killing a Muslim resident of Khosoos, a town north of Cairo in April. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said nine Muslims were sentenced to up to five years for vandalizing Christian properties.

No one was tried for the death of at least six Christians.

The violence was sparked by an argument when locals accused Christians of desecrating an Islamic school, a charge they denied.


Mandela makes final journey home in SAfrica

QUNU, South Africa (AP) — A minister at Sunday's burial of Nelson Mandela has described the former South African president as "a man after God's own heart."

In a sermon at the gravesite, the Rev. Monwabisi Jamangile (mon-wah-BEE'-see jah-mahn-GEE'-leh) said Mandela has "achieved he ultimate freedom" and reached his final destination. He said, "Beyond the hurting there is heaven."

Mandela's casket was lowered into the ground in the village where he grew up after military jets and helicopters with South African flags flew over the pallbearers.

The Mandela family's chaplain, Bishop Don Dabula, thanked God for Nelson Mandela's "example of justice, peace and reconciliation and his courage to endure suffering, rejection and persecution for the sake of others."

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102-a-17-(Brigadier General Reverend Monwabisi Jamangile (mon-wah-BEE'-see jah-mahn-GEE'-leh), in sermon at Nelson Mandela's funeral)-"God's own heart"-In a sermon at Nelson Mandela's gravesite Reverend Monwabisi Jamangile says the late South African president was a man of God and the "light of the world." ((note length of cut)) (15 Dec 2013)

<<CUT *102 (12/15/13)££ 00:17 "God's own heart"

103-a-16-(Brigadier General Reverend Monwabisi Jamangile (mon-wah-BEE'-see jah-mahn-GEE'-leh), in sermon at Nelson Mandela's funeral)-"there is heaven"-In a sermon at Nelson Mandela's gravesite Reverend Monwabisi Jamangile says Nelson Mandela left a legacy of hope. (15 Dec 2013)

<<CUT *103 (12/15/13)££ 00:16 "there is heaven"

104-a-16-(Brigadier General Reverend Monwabisi Jamangile (mon-wah-BEE'-see jah-mahn-GEE'-leh), in sermon at Nelson Mandela's funeral)-"of your maker"-In a sermon at Nelson Mandela's gravesite Reverend Monwabisi Jamangile says the great South African leader has reached his final destination. (15 Dec 2013)

<<CUT *104 (12/15/13)££ 00:16 "of your maker"


6 Tony Alamo properties scheduled for auction

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — Six Arkansas properties owned by convicted evangelist Tony Alamo (uh-LAH'-moh) have been scheduled for auction next month.

The Texarkana Gazette reports that the properties include the Alamo Ministries church building and other properties in Fort Smith.

The sale is intended to raise funds to pay $15 million that Alamo was ordered to pay to each of two men after a jury found that he ordered the men beaten, starved and abused when they were children in his ministry.

Several members of Alamo's ministry had claimed they, not Alamo, own the properties but a federal magistrate rejected those claims.

Alamo, 79, is currently serving a 175-year prison term after being convicted in 2011 of conspiracy, battery and outrage for taking young girls that he claimed to have married across state lines for sex.


Minnesota archbishop asks for forgiveness

EDINA, Minn. (AP) — The Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis is asking Catholics for forgiveness, saying he's sorry that he overlooked the issue of clergy sex abuse.

Archbishop John Nienstedt delivered his apology during two Masses at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, saying parishioners justifiably feel indignation and deserve better.

After the early Mass, Nienstedt told reporters he thought the problem was taken care of when he became head of the Twin Cities archdiocese seven years ago, and that he didn't think he needed to worry about it. He says he should have investigated it more than he did.

Nienstedt says he was as surprised as anyone else in September when news started breaking of issues of clergy sexual misconduct in the archdiocese.


Philly archbishop removes 5 priests from ministry

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Roman Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia says five parish priests have been permanently removed from ministry while two others were cleared to return to their duties.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Archbishop Charles Chaput (SHAP'-yoo) acted after allegations of misconduct or sexual abuse were raised.

Among the five is Father Michael Chapman, who had been investigated and cleared by an archdiocesan review board last year before a new accuser came forward with child sex abuse allegations.

The church isn't disclosing details of the allegations against the five priests. The Associated Press wasn't able to reach them for comment.

Two others were cleared to return to their parishes after the review board determined that it couldn't substantiate allegations against one and that the other did not pose a danger to children.


Polygamy advocates hail judge's ruling in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Advocacy groups for polygamy are hailing a federal judge's ruling that key parts of Utah's polygamy laws are unconstitutional, saying it will remove the threat of arrest for polygamous families.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups said in the decision handed down Friday that a provision in Utah law forbidding cohabitation with another person violated the First Amendment right of freedom of religion.

The ruling was a victory for Kody Brown and his four wives who star in the hit TLC reality show "Sister Wives" and other fundamentalist Mormons who believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.

Anne Wilde of Salt Lake City, co-founder of the polygamy advocacy group Principle Voices, estimates there are 38,000 fundamentalist Mormons who practice or believe in polygamy, most living in Utah and other Western states.

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