Update on the latest religion news


St. Pat’s parades proceed amid tension over gays

NEW YORK (AP) — New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade has been held without the city’s new mayor.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who greeted passing dignitaries in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, said he regretted Mayor Bill de Blasio’s absence from the parade, but said he was glad that the mayor attended Mass.

De Blasio boycotted the parade because organizers said marchers were not allowed to carry pro-gay signs.

Dolan said he supported the participation of individual gays in the parade, and hoped that St. Patrick’s Day could be a day of unity and joy. Dolan said he looks forward to the parade every year, and only missed it a year ago because he and other cardinals were in Rome electing a new pope.

The brewer of Guinness and Heineken withdrew its sponsorship from this year’s parade in New York over the gay issue, and the brewer of Sam Adams withdrew its sponsorship of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, responded by calling for a boycott of those beers.


236-a-16-(Brendan Fay, gay Irish protester, in AP interview)-“welcome to everybody”-Gay Irish protester Brendan Fay says it’s time New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade accepted gays and lesbians as themselves. (17 Mar 2014)


235-w-32-(Warren Levinson, AP correspondent, with Brendan Fay, gay Irish protester at New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade)–The voices of protest got louder at this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York. AP correspondent Warren Levinson reports. (17 Mar 2014)


239-a-16-(Emmaia (eh-MY-‘uh) Gelman, gay rights activist, with reporters)-“City Police Department”-Gay rights activist Emmaia Gelman says Guinness and Heineken were right to withdraw from the parade, and the NYPD should follow suit. (17 Mar 2014)


240-a-08-(Joe Poole, Dublin taxi driver visiting New York City, in AP interview)-“Irish leaders, huh”-Joe Poole, a taxi driver visiting from Dublin, marveled at the size of New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. (17 Mar 2014)


237-a-08-(Allen Roskoff, gay rights activist, with reporters)-“in the closet”-Gay rights activist Allen Roskoff says being allowed to march with other groups isn’t enough for gays and lesbians. (17 Mar 2014)


238-a-07-(Allen Roskoff, activist, with reporters)-“a homophobic parade”-Gay rights activist Allen Roskoff says gays are unhappy that the NYPD encourages officers to take part in the parade in uniform. (17 Mar 2014)


218-w-36-(AP correspondent Warren Levinson, with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York)–Amid controversy over a ban on expressions of support for gay rights, kilted bagpipers and costumed drummers took to the streets for New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. AP correspondent Warren Levinson reports. (17 Mar 2014)


211-r-30-(Sound of the New York City Fire Department’s Emerald Society Pipe and Drums, marching in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade)–Sound of the New York City Fire Department’s Emerald Society Pipe and Drums marching in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. (17 Mar 2014)



Christians, Muslims join anti-slavery campaign

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Christians and Muslims have joined to try to help free millions of men, women and children who are held in modern-day slavery, being forced to work as maids, prostitutes, child soldiers and manual laborers.

The Global Freedom Network launched Monday at the Vatican aims to eradicate slavery by encouraging governments, businesses, educational and faith institutions to rid their supply chains of slave labor. The initiative is the brainchild of billionaire Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest, who founded the Walk Free Foundation in 2012 to mobilize a grass-roots movement to end slavery.

Forrest, ranked 270th on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people, used personal contacts to bring the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church, 85-million strong Anglican Communion and al-Azhar university in Cairo, the world’s foremost seat of Sunni learning, on board with the initiative.


229-a-12-(Andrew Forrest, founder of the Walk Free Foundation, in AP interview)-“stamp it out”-Andrew Forrest, founder of the Walk Free Foundation, says no company should want its products to be made with slave labor. (17 Mar 2014)


230-a-08-(Andrew Forrest, founder of the Walk Free Foundation, in AP interview)-“goes our respect”-Andrew Forrest, founder of the Walk Free Foundation, says companies whose products are made with slave labor put their reputations at risk. (17 Mar 2014)



Joseph Fan, underground bishop of Shanghai, dies

BEIJING (AP) — Catholic groups say the underground bishop of Shanghai, Joseph Fan, has died at age 97 following decades of imprisonment and house arrest.

The U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation says Fan died early Sunday evening following a brief illness. It says officials in China’s financial hub turned down a request to hold his funeral at the city’s cathedral.

Fan was named Shanghai bishop by John Paul II in 2000, but was refused recognition by the Communist Party body overseeing the church in China. Fan was placed under house arrest and another priest, Aloysius Jin Luxian, was named as bishop.

China rejects the Vatican’s insistence on the right to appoint bishops and the sides have no formal ties.

Jin’s successor, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, has not been seen since being taken into custody in 2012.


Judge won’t halt lawsuit in death of church worker

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Delaware judge has refused to halt a lawsuit filed against a Dagsboro church by the family of a church volunteer who was kidnapped, raped and killed, allegedly by a church employee.

The New Castle County judge denied a request by Bay Shore Community Church and its pastor to put the lawsuit filed by Nicole Bennett’s survivors on hold.

The defendants had asked that the lawsuit be stayed until the criminal case against Matthew Burton, who is charged with killing Bennett, is decided.

Bennett, who led a daycare program at the church, was found dead in June 2012 in Worcester County, Md.

The lawsuit claims that the church was negligent in hiring and supervising Burton, a convicted sex offender, as a custodian.


NY lawmakers seek protections on religious attire

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Two New York state lawmakers from Queens are promoting a bill that would protect workers from religious discrimination based on how they dress.

The bill before the state Senate would clarify that attire and facial hair worn in accordance with a worker’s religion is protected under human rights law. Sponsors cite the case of a Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker who was told to put an MTA badge on his turban.

The bill was approved in New York’s state Assembly.

Sponsors state Sen. James Sanders and Assemblyman David Weprin will hold a news conference Tuesday urging Senate passage.


Mormon church tells women’s group not to protest

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Mormon church is warning a group of women pushing for gender equality that it won’t be allowed to protest in Salt Lake City’s Temple Square next month during a biannual conference.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told the members of Ordain Women in a letter sent Monday that if they insist on going forward with their plans, they’ll need to protest in a zone set aside for protesters on the street. The church says activist events detract from the sacred environment of the weekend conference in Salt Lake City.

The group’s founder Kate Kelly says members will go forward with lining up outside the meeting of male priests and ask to be let in, but says they’re discouraged that church leaders compare them with outside protest groups.


245-c-10-(Brady McCombs, AP correspondent)-“also exclusively male”-AP correspondent Brady McCombs reports that the group called Ordain Women is pressing for gender equality in the Mormon church. (17 Mar 2014)


244-c-09-(Brady McCombs, AP correspondent)-“Salt Lake City”-AP correspondent Brady McCombs reports that the Mormon Church won’t let women pressing for gender equality in the church protest on church property during an upcoming conference. (17 Mar 2014)



Polygamist sect leader Jeffs hospitalized in Texas

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says polygamous church leader Warren Jeffs has been hospitalized.

Department spokesman Robert Hurst said the 58-year-old Jeffs was in stable condition Monday at a Galveston hospital. Hurst says Jeffs was admitted March 11 for treatment of a condition that’s not life-threatening.

Jeffs is the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He was convicted in August 2011 and sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting two of his child brides. Prosecutors said Jeffs had two dozen underage wives in all.

The FLDS practices polygamy, a legacy of early Mormon church teachings that held plural marriage brought exaltation in heaven. The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abandoned the practice in 1890 as a condition of Utah’s statehood and ex-communicates members who still engage in polygamy.


New London schools recognize Muslim holidays

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) — Muslims in Connecticut are welcoming New London’s recognition of Islamic holidays in its calendar for the next school year.

The calendar lists certain Muslim and Jewish holidays as days when observing students can be excused for absences. It also asks teachers not to schedule tests on those dates.

The Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Monday that including the Islamic holidays will serve to enhance the learning environment for Muslim students.

Council spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says there is a growing movement toward recognizing Muslim holidays in school districts nationwide. He says it reflects the growth and maturity of the Muslim community as more parents don’t want to see students marked absent when observing holidays.