Update on the latest in religion news:



Narnia author's stepson discusses latest film

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — The stepson of the late C.S. Lewis, author of "The Chronicles of Narnia," says the latest film in the series is about facing and overcoming temptation.

In a CBN News interview broadcast on Tuesday's edition of "The 700 Club," Douglas Gresham said "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is in some ways a children's version of "The Screwtape Letters" -- Lewis's classic depiction of a correspondence between two demons on how to tempt people.

Gresham says the young heroes in "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" encounter powerful temptations, but learn how they can be overcome with the help of Narnia's Christ figure, the lion Aslan.

Narnia fans who have previewed the new film have noted plot variations from the children's book.

Gresham told CBN News that given more time, there are things he would "do again differently."

But he added, "There are things that I enjoy enormously in this movie."


<<CUT …343 (12/07/10)>> 00:08 "to overcome them"

Douglas Gresham

Douglas Gresham, stepson of the late C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, says the third Narnia film "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" opens in theaters Friday. COURTESY: CBN News ((mandatory on-air credit))

<<CUT …344 (12/07/10)>> 00:07 "and defeated it"

Douglas Gresham

Douglas Gresham, stepson of the late C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, says "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is about facing and overcoming temptation. COURTESY: CBN News ((mandatory on-air credit))

<<CUT …345 (12/07/10)>> 00:05 "in this movie"

Douglas Gresham

Douglas Gresham, stepson of the late C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, says "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" isn't a perfect film. COURTESY: CBN News ((Mandatory on-air credit))

<<CUT …346 (12/07/10)>> 00:06 "in that direction"

Douglas Gresham

Douglas Gresham, stepson of the late C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, says he first learned about Jesus Christ through his stepfather's children's series. COURTESY: CBN News ((Mandatory on-air credit))


Michael W. Smith to release new book in March

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Multi-platinum Christian artist Michael W. Smith is planning to release a new book in March.

It's called "A Simple Blessing: The Extraordinary Power of an Ordinary Prayer" and was written in collaboration with writer Thomas Williams.

The idea for the book came from Smith feeling deeply troubled by worldwide struggles -- everything from the economic downturn to the earthquake in Haiti -- so he began closing his concerts with a prayer of blessing over his audience.

Smith says the response was overwhelming. Fans sent him letters and e-mails explaining how they were touched by his message.

The book is organized into six specific blessings taken from Smith's prayer.

This will be Michael W. Smith's 12th book.


NC city lottery may not end Christian flag dispute

KING, N.C. (AP) — A dispute over the display of religious flags in a North Carolina town may continue despite a city-backed compromise.

The King city council voted Monday to use a lottery that will allow citizens to display flags with religious symbols at a public war memorial.

The measure is intended to address concerns about the earlier display of a Christian flag at the site.

But Americans United For Separation of Church and State says the policy is still a problem. They say the city shouldn't be sponsoring forums for religious expression.

The Alliance Defense Fund, which helped craft the measure, disputes that. They say symbols can be displayed on the flagpole as long as they're on a list approved by the federal Veterans Administration.


Pa. couple on trial in prayer death of ill son, 2

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A couple who prayed for their sick toddler rather than take him to a doctor before his pneumonia death are on trial in Philadelphia, charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Defense lawyers say Herbert and Catherine Schaible (SHY'-buhl) are being prosecuted because they are Christian fundamentalists and belong to a church that endorses faith healing.

Catherine Schaible's lawyer says prosecutors cannot prove the mother knew her 2-year-old son, Kent, was facing death when he became ill in January 2009. The boy died 10 days later of bacterial pneumonia.

Prosecutors say a doctor's visit could have saved him.

The trial began Tuesday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. The Schaibles have several other children who remained in their care after their arrests.


Catholic, evangelical leaders urge passage of nuclear arms treaty

UNDATED (AP) — The president of the National Association of Evangelicals is urging the U.S. Senate to quickly pass a nuclear arms control treaty with Russia.

The Rev. Leith (leeth) Anderson says evangelicals have "prayed often for nuclear weapons to not be used, and to be reduced."

Anderson was joined Tuesday by Bishop Howard Hubbard of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in calling for passage of the New START agreement during the Senate's lame duck session.

Consideration of the treaty cutting U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals could depend on how quickly the Senate resolves tax and budget issues.

Hubbard said that while he and Anderson are not "technical experts" on nuclear weapons, they can offer "moral direction and encouragement" to reduce "a grave threat to the human family."


<<CUT …342 (12/07/10)>> 00:58 "''

Steve Coleman

A Closer Look: Evangelical and Catholic leaders urge the U.S. Senate to pass a new nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports.

<<CUT …347 (12/07/10)>> 00:14 "of those possibilities"

The Reverend Leith (leeth) Anderson

The Reverend Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, says he believes reducing the nuclear threat is biblical.

<<CUT …348 (12/07/10)>> 00:12 "to be reduced"

The Reverend Leith (leeth) Anderson

The Reverend Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, says reducing the risk of nuclear war is pro-life.

<<CUT …349 (12/07/10)>> 00:11 "the human family"

Bishop Howard Hubbard

Bishop Howard Hubbard, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says nuclear arms control is something Catholics and evangelicals can agree on.

<<CUT …350 (12/07/10)>> 00:13 "disarmament and non-proliferation"

Bishop Howard Hubbard

Bishop Howard Hubbard, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says it's appropriate for religious leaders to speak out on arms control.


Ex-pastor going to prison for duping investors

SULLIVAN, Ind. (AP) — A judge has sentenced an Indiana church financier to 54 years in prison for pocketing millions of dollars that investors believed would be used to build churches.

Former pastor Vaughn Reeves was convicted on nine counts of securities fraud in October.

His attorney promised to appeal the conviction and the sentence.

Investigators said the 66-year-old Reeves and his three sons used sales pitches that included prayers and Bible passages to dupe about 11,000 investors into buying bonds worth $120 million secured by mortgages on construction projects at about 150 churches.

Investigators said Reeves and his sons diverted money from new investments to pay off previous investors, pocketing $6 million and buying two airplanes, sports cars and vacations.


Group examines future of Philly Catholic schools

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 17-member commission has been appointed to examine the future of local Roman Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Cardinal Justin Rigali says the group will develop a strategic vision for Catholic education in the face of rising costs and declining enrollment.

The five-county archdiocese has 188 Catholic schools serving about 68,000 students. Since 2008, the church has closed or merged at least 20 schools while opening two high schools.

The commission is composed of laity and church officials. Chairman Jack Quindlen says the group will look at everything from buildings and logistics to finances and hopes to submit its recommendations to the cardinal in fall 2011.


Israeli rabbis: Don't sell property to non-Jews

JERUSALEM (AP) — Three dozen of Israel's top rabbis have thrown their support behind a religious ruling barring Jews from selling or renting apartments to non-Jews.

The clerics' support for the ruling testifies to a growing radicalism within the rabbinical community at a time of mounting friction between Israeli Arabs and Jews.

The action by the clerics, who are chief rabbis in some of Israel's largest cities, fueled charges of racism. It was also likely to feed the growing alienation between Israel's majority Jews and minority Arabs, and widen the schism between secular and religious Jews.

Rabbi David Rosen, the interfaith adviser to Israel's chief rabbinate, said the clerics' call is "against the essence of Judaism which affirms that every human being is created in the divine image."


<<CUT …268 (12/07/10)>> 00:16 "the divine image"

Rabbi David Rosen

Rabbi David Rosen, interfaith adviser to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, says it's wrong for rabbis to bar Jews from selling or renting apartments to non-Jews.

<<CUT …269 (12/07/10)>> 00:13 "public is unthinkable"

Hagai Elad

Hagai Elad, executive director of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, says rabbis should not call for discrimination against non-Jewish Israelis.


China holds meeting of Catholic bishops to choose new leaders

BEIJING (AP) — China's bishops have met to choose leaders of the government-backed Catholic church amid tensions with the Vatican, which denounced the recent ordination of a bishop who did not have the pope's approval.

The meeting in Beijing to elect new heads of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the Council of Chinese Bishops is another source of friction because the Vatican says both organizations run counter to Catholic doctrine.

AsiaNews, a Vatican-affiliated news agency, reports that Chinese authorities tried to force some bishops to attend the Beijing meeting against their will.

The Patriotic Association has for years been a stumbling block to formal ties between the Holy See and Beijing. Run by hard-liners, it does Beijing's bidding, not the Vatican's.


Calif man pleads not guilty in priest assault case

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A California man has pleaded not guilty to assaulting a Jesuit priest he has said molested him more than three decades ago.

Will Lynch of San Francisco previously said he intends to take the case to trial so he can expose the alleged molestation and raise awareness about clergy abuse.

Lynch entered the plea in Santa Clara Superior Court to one count of assault for allegedly beating 65-year-old Jerold Lindner in May until he was bloody at a retirement home in front of shocked residents.

Lindner has denied molesting Lynch and his little brother in 1975 during a weekend camping trip in the Santa Cruz Mountains.


Catholic educator concealed abuse knowledge

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Price says he was molested by a Catholic teacher when he was in high school, so he reached out to the religious order that runs the school.

De La Salle Christian Brothers apologized, and the order's Midwest leader said the brother in question had been forbidden from contact with anyone under 18 and was working in a prison.

But the leader neglected to mention that the prison was a juvenile detention center for males from age 10 to 21. One of the inmates later filed a lawsuit accusing Brother Raimond Rose of molestation. In fact, 21 men have filed lawsuits against Rose in cases dating back to the 1960s.

The writer of the letter to Price, Brother Thomas Johnson, is now the order's second-ranking official.

Rose, who is now 77, has never been criminally charged, though law enforcement agencies in California, Minnesota and North Dakota have investigated various allegations against him.

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