Update on the latest religion news

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Updated: Mon, 11 Aug 2014 07:20:22 EST


US Ebola check means quarantine of missionaries

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina health officials say missionaries returning to the United States after working with Africans infected with Ebola will be put in quarantine and monitored.

State health officials say the quarantine will last at least three weeks after the missionaries were last exposed to people infected with the Ebola virus.

The missionaries are with Charlotte-based SIM USA. The aid group says none of them are sick or have shown any signs of having Ebola, but agrees that everyone should be as cautious as possible. The aid group isn't releasing details of their return to protect the privacy of their families.

Samaritan's Purse Vice President Ken Isaacs told a congressional hearing last week that exposed missionaries' "communities may ostracize them" out of fear.

SIM missionary Nancy Writebol and Samaritan's Purse Dr. Kent Brantly are in an Atlanta hospital after contracting Ebola in Liberia.

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


Catholic nun dies from Ebola virus in Liberia

MADRID (AP) — A Catholic humanitarian group based in Spain says a nun from the Congo who was working in Liberia has died of the Ebola virus.

The San Juan de Dios hospital order says Sister Chantal Pascaline died "from Ebola in the Hospital San Jose de Monrovia, despite the care she received from a volunteer nurse."

Pascaline belonged to the same order as a Spanish missionary priest and nun evacuated to Madrid by jet this week. Both are in stable condition in a Madrid hospital.

The U.N. health agency says the current Ebola outbreak is the largest and longest ever recorded for the disease and so far has killed at least 961 people. It emerged in Guinea in March and has since spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.


Prime chance in Iowa for potential 2016 candidates

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates have spent this past weekend courting Christian conservatives in Iowa.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and past caucus winners Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee addressed more than 1,000 evangelical voters at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames. Though the state's kickoff caucuses are over a year away, all wanted to impress Christian conservative voters, who traditionally influence the caucuses because they tend to be organized and motivated to participate.

The candidates largely emphasized conservative principles, like opposition to abortion and gay marriage, reducing the size of government and curtailing illegal immigration. Most stressed their support for Israel and questioned Obama's foreign policies.


Gaza Christians pray for peace

GAZA CITY, Gaza (AP) — Palestinian Christians at Gaza's St. Porphyrios Orthodox Church are praying for peace.

Only a few dozen attended Sunday Mass at the church where hundreds worshipped before the war started.

The cemetery outside the church was damaged in an Israeli strike last month.

Israel accuses Gaza militants of firing rockets from populated areas near or within mosques, churches, hospitals or schools. But Greek Orthodox Bishop Alexios has denied that rockets were fired from his church. He says Christians are praying for security in their holy places, whether in Israel or the Palestinian territories.

There are approximately 2,500 Christians among an overall Palestinian population of more than 1.7 (m) million in Gaza. Their numbers rapidly have shrunk in recent years because of turmoil and Islamic extremism.

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


Pope expresses outrage at violence in Iraq

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has expressed outrage at the violence aimed at religious minorities in Iraq, where fleeing children have died of thirst, and said his emissary is being dispatched to the region.

In a strongly worded message during his traditional Sunday blessing, Francis said the news from Iraq "leaves us in disbelief." He cited "the thousands of people, including Christians, who have been brutally forced from their homes, children who have died from thirst during the escape and women who have been seized."

He also spoke of "the destruction of religious, historic and cultural treasures." The pope urged the international community to find a political solution "to stop these crimes."

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Vatican's ambassador in Baghdad during the Iraqi war, is being sent to Iraq this week to show solidarity with Christians, who are among those targeted by Islamic State militants for elimination.

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


French minister in Iraq to oversee aid delivery

PARIS (AP) — France says Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has gone to Iraq to supervise French aid delivery and show support.

A ministry statement Sunday said Fabius was visiting Baghdad and Irbil, in the Kurdistan region, and meeting with representatives of Christians and Yazidis. The minorities are being viciously persecuted by the Islamic State group — radical Islamists who are taking over strategic swaths of northern Iraq.

On Saturday, President Francois Hollande spoke with Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, assuring him that France "will stand by the civilian population, victims of continued exactions of the Islamic State."

Hollande also spoke Saturday with President Barack Obama, saying France "will take its full place" among nations willing to help the Kurdish minorities in Iraq.


Judge rules Ten Commandments monument must go

BLOOMFIELD, N.M. (AP) — A federal judge says a New Mexico city must remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lawn in front of Bloomfield City Hall.

The Daily Times reports that U.S. District Judge James Parker issued the ruling in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, saying the monument constitutes government speech and has the "principal effect of endorsing religion."

In a 32-page opinion, Parker said the city of Bloomfield clearly violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause and must take the monument down by Sept. 10.

The suit was filed on behalf of two Bloomfield residents, who say the monument violates their religious freedom.

City attorneys say private individuals erected and paid for the monument under a 2007 city resolution.


Exotic dancers protest topless at Ohio church

WARSAW, Ohio (AP) — Exotic dancers from an Ohio strip club have protested topless outside a church in a demonstration that included some heated verbal exchanges between protesters and churchgoers.

The Coshocton Tribune reports no major problems occurred Sunday outside the Warsaw church that the strip club owner says has protested his business for years.

Club owner Thomas George says judges have repeatedly denied his requests for legal injunctions to keep church members from picketing near his property. The Rev. Bill Dunfee, the church's pastor, has said the latest action indicated that churchgoers' protests are working.

The newspaper reports six bare-breasted women marched from a corner to the edge of the church's parking lot at one point Sunday.

Most congregation members left through a rear entrance shielded from protesters by a tarp.


Body of missing Durham priest found at state park

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Authorities say the body of a 71-year-old Anglican priest from Durham, North Carolina, who was missing for five days has been found at a state park and a suspect has been charged with murder.

State officials say Father Kent Hinkson's remains were located early Sunday at Eno River State Park. His body has been sent for an autopsy.

The State Bureau of Investigation says that 36-year-old Matthew Reed is charged with first-degree murder. The bureau took over the investigation after the body of the priest from All Saints Church was found at the state park.

Authorities say Father Hinkson was last seen Monday heading to the bank. His car was found nearly 5 miles from his home Wednesday.

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