Update on the latest religion news

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Updated: Thu, 03 Apr 2014 04:15:54 EST


Ted Cruz: Religious liberties under attack

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) — Potential GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz says "religious liberty has never been more under attack" than today. And he's urging students at the nation's largest Christian university to defend the rights of believers.

The Texas Republican senator on Wednesday told students at Virginia's Liberty University that they have a responsibility and ability to push back against President Barack Obama and other Democrats who are implementing a national health care plan that includes mandatory coverage for birth control. Cruz says the law requires owners of businesses like Hobby Lobby to provide access to contraception regardless of their religious beliefs.

Cruz, a tea party favorite who is considering a presidential run in 2016, says students at the school the Rev. Jerry Falwell founded have the power to change the country if they stand united and live out their Christian faith.


218-a-13-(Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, addressing students at Liberty University)-"are waking up"-Senator Ted Cruz says Christians can turn the country around. (2 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *218 (04/02/14)££ 00:13 "are waking up"

214-a-12-(Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, addressing students at Liberty University)-"is right now"-Senator Ted Cruz says Americans are at risk of losing their religious rights. (2 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *214 (04/02/14)££ 00:12 "is right now"

217-a-04-(Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, addressing students at Liberty University)-"to sitting quietly"-Senator Ted Cruz says Christians must resist threats to their religious liberty. (2 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *217 (04/02/14)££ 00:04 "to sitting quietly"

216-a-10-(Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, addressing students at Liberty University)-"contraceptives of others"-Senator Ted Cruz says business owners shouldn't be required to provide their employees' birth control. (2 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *216 (04/02/14)££ 00:10 "contraceptives of others"


Contempt order sought in Md. public prayer case

WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) — A national humanist group is asking a federal judge to hold the elected leaders of a Maryland county in contempt and fine them $30,000 for violating his order barring them from opening meetings with sectarian prayers.

The American Humanist Association gave Carroll County Commissioner Robin Frazier a pass last week when she defied Judge William Quarles' preliminary injunction by reciting a prayer invoking Jesus Christ. But the association says the board violated the order again this week by authorizing an ally to deliver an overtly Christian prayer from the audience at a meeting Tuesday morning.

The man who offered the prayer says he did it on his own, not at the behest of any county official.

The county and its lawyer have said they're confident that a similar case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court will be decided in favor of Carroll County's position that the prayers are personal expressions of faith, not government speech.


World Vision board member resigns over gay uproar

SEATTLE (AP) — A World Vision board member has resigned in protest after the Christian aid group quickly reversed its decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages.

Jacquelline Fuller, director of corporate giving for Google Inc., said in an email Wednesday to The Associated Press that she remains a "huge fan" of the group's work on behalf of the poor. But she resigned Friday, saying she "disagreed with the decision to exclude gay employees who marry." She declined to comment further.

World Vision U.S. is based in Washington state, where same-sex marriage is legal.

When the charity announced last week that it would hire employees in gay marriages, some prominent evangelical leaders condemned the decision, and several thousand donors canceled their child sponsorships. Within two days, the charity backtracked, causing a separate backlash from people who support recognition for married gay employees.

A World Vision spokesman, Steve Panton, said no other board members have resigned.


270-v-32-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor)--A World Vision board member has resigned in protest after the Christian aid group quickly reversed its decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (2 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *270 (04/02/14)££ 00:32


Thousands attend Boston firefighter's funeral

WATERTOWN, Mass. (AP) — Thousands of firefighters from across Massachusetts and beyond have joined family and friends in paying final respects to a 43-year-old Boston firefighter killed in a nine-alarm blaze last week.

Lt. Edward Walsh died alongside 33-year-old colleague Michael Kennedy when they became trapped by the fire at a Back Bay brownstone one week ago. Walsh was married with three children, all under the age of 10.

Thousands of firefighters lined the streets Wednesday outside St. Patrick's Church in suburban Watertown, the site of the funeral Mass.

Walsh will be buried next to his father, a former Watertown firefighter.

The Mass was attended by Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley.


206-a-11-(The Rev. John Unni (OO'-nee), pastor of Boston's St. Cecilia Church, at funeral for Boston firefighter Edward Walsh)-"stuff happens, huh"-The Rev. John Unni, pastor of Boston's St. Cecilia Church, says this isn't a time for trite religious expressions. (2 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *206 (04/02/14)££ 00:11 "stuff happens, huh"

205-a-15-(The Rev. John Unni (OO'-nee), pastor of Boston's St. Cecilia Church, at funeral for Boston firefighter Edward Walsh)-"like your dad"-The Rev. John Unni, pastor of Boston's St. Cecilia Church, addresses Lt. Walsh's three young children. (2 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *205 (04/02/14)££ 00:15 "like your dad"

207-r-28-(Choir and congregation singing, at funeral for Boston firefighter Edward Walsh)--Sound of choir and congregation singing at funeral for Boston firefighter Edward Walsh. (2 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *207 (04/02/14)££ 00:28

204-a-08-(Kathy Malone, sister of Boston firefighter Edward Walsh, at his funeral)-"person you were"-Kathy Malone, sister of Boston firefighter Edward Walsh, says she'll try to follow his example. (2 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *204 (04/02/14)££ 00:08 "person you were"


Atlanta archbishop: Mansion likely to be sold

SMYRNA, Ga. (AP) — The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta says he suspects the church will ultimately sell a $2.2 million mansion built for his use.

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that he accepts blame for not consulting enough with members of the church before building the expansive residence in one of Atlanta's toniest neighborhoods.

Gregory says he wants to consult with several church councils before making a final decision but believes the recommendation will be to sell the property.

The archbishop moved into the mansion in January after selling his old home to Christ the King Cathedral so it could expand.

Local Catholics have criticized Gregory for not following the example of austerity set by Pope Francis.


245-a-08-(Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Roman Catholic archbishop of Atlanta, in AP interview)-"uh, listen more"-Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory says he made a mistake and will try to do better in the future. (2 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *245 (04/02/14)££ 00:08 "uh, listen more"

244-a-04-(Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Roman Catholic archbishop of Atlanta, in AP interview)-"that mistake again"-Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory says he should have consulted with people in the archdiocese before building the new mansion. (2 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *244 (04/02/14)££ 00:04 "that mistake again"

243-a-12-(Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Roman Catholic archbishop of Atlanta, in AP interview)-"million dollar home (second reference)"-Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory says he regrets the controversy he caused by building himself a $2.2 million mansion. (2 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *243 (04/02/14)££ 00:12 "million dollar home (second reference)"


Rabbi loses court case over frequent flier miles

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled against a Minnesota rabbi whose frequent complaints about an airline got him tossed out of its frequent flier program.

The court dismissed a lawsuit from Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg over Northwest Airlines' decision to strip him of his top-level frequent flier status and then end his membership.

Northwest, since absorbed by Delta Air Lines, said it cut off Ginsberg because he complained too much. The rabbi said Northwest did not act in good faith, and was trying to cut costs because of its merger with Delta.

The court said in an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito that the federal deregulation of the airline industry in 1978 prohibits most lawsuits like the one filed by Ginsberg.


Francis recalls John Paul II's death 9 years ago

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has hailed Pope John Paul II's legacy on the ninth anniversary of the Polish-born pontiff's death.

Tens of thousands of tourists and pilgrims, some from Poland, applauded when Francis recalled during his weekly Wednesday public audience in St. Peter's Square that John Paul died on April 2, 2005 — and will soon be made a saint.

Francis will lead the sainthood ceremony in the square on April 27 for both John Paul and Pope John XXIII.

Francis urged the faithful to prepare for the event by "rekindling the legacy of faith that John Paul left behind." He added that the long-ailing John Paul, who led the church from 1978 until 2005, "even accomplished good with his suffering."


Bishops say Venezuela seeks totalitarian rule

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's Catholic bishops are accusing the government of seeking totalitarian-style rule, comments that could complicate the Vatican's offer to facilitate talks between the socialist government and its opposition.

The Conference of Venezuelan Bishops is calling on President Nicolas Maduro to halt his crackdown on critics who have been protesting in the streets for seven weeks. The conference president is Bishop Diego Padron (pah-DROHN'). Speaking in Caracas on Wednesday, he accused Maduro of attempting to criminalize dissent.

The statement comes a few days after the Vatican said it was willing to facilitate talks between the two sides. Maduro indicated he would accept such talks, but the position of the various groups that constitute the opposition remains unclear.

The bishops association has periodically criticized the Venezuelan government.


'Living on borrowed time,' said Kenyan Muslim

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The charismatic Muslim leader on Kenya's coast was certain that he would be killed.

Abubakar Shariff Ahmed — known as Makaburi — told an Associated Press reporter in October that he was "living on borrowed time." On Monday night, his premonition came true.

Before the interview with AP, two Muslim leaders of what authorities say is a radical Mombasa mosque had already been killed by unknown gunmen. Rights activists blamed government death squads.

Sitting under a cloth with a hand-painted sword on it and a religious text in Arabic, Makaburi said that whoever had ordered his two friends killed would also order his death.

Makaburi, who was accused of links with Somali militants, was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen Monday night in Mombasa.

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