Update on the latest religion news


Latest U.S. Ebola victim to be treated in Nebraska

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina-based charity says the missionary who contracted Ebola while serving in Liberia is being flown to the U.S. for treatment.

A statement from SIM says Dr. Rick Sacra (SAY’-krah) is expected to arrive Friday at the Nebraska Medical Center and begin treatment in the Omaha hospital’s isolation unit.

SIM USA president Bruce Johnson says Sacra received excellent care in Liberia, but the Nebraska facility provides advanced monitoring equipment and more treatment options. Doctors in Omaha say they’re discussing experimental treatments, including using blood serum from a patient who recovered from Ebola.

Sacra’s wife told reporters in Boston that she was told her husband was able to walk onto the plane in Liberia.

Debbie Sacra says her husband, a Boston-area obstetrician, knew the risks, but opted to head to Liberia after hearing that two other missionaries were sick.


297-a-09-(Dr. Philip Smith, Division of Infectious Disease, Nebraska Medical Center, at news conference)-“he gets here”-Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Philip Smith, at the Nebraska Medical Center, says they’re getting ready to treat Dr. Rick Sacra, who’s infected with the Ebola virus. ((Sacra is pronounced SAY’-krah)) ((watch for dating)) (4 Sep 2014)


294-a-06-(Debbie Sacra (SAY’-krah), wife of Dr. Rick Sacra, with reporters)-“take care of”-Debbie Sacra, wife of Dr. Rick Sacra, says he knew the risk of contracting Ebola, but wanted to provide medical care to Liberians. (4 Sep 2014)


295-a-08-(Debbie Sacra (SAY’-krah), wife of Dr. Rick Sacra, with reporters)-“that compels Rick”-Debbie Sacra, wife of Dr. Rick Sacra, says her husband is a healer. (4 Sep 2014)


299-a-24-(Cr. Philip Smith, Division of Infectious Disease, Nebraska Medical Center, at news conference)-“them some antibodies”-Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Philip Smith, at the Nebraska Medical Center, says several treatment options are being discussed, but it will depend on the patient’s condition. ((note length of cut)) (4 Sep 2014)


298-a-20-(Dr. Philip Smith, Division of Infectious Disease, Nebraska Medical Center, at news conference)-“a drug reaction”-Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Philip Smith, at the Nebraska Medical Center, says Dr. Rick Sacra’s family won’t be allowed into his room, but they’ll be able to communicate. ((Sacra is pronounced SAY’-krah)) ((note length of cut)) (4 Sep 2014)


293-a-12-(Debbie Sacra (SAY’-krah), wife of Dr. Rick Sacra, with reporters)-“hospital to open”-Debbie Sacra, wife of Dr. Rick Sacra, says her husband flew to Liberia a month ago to help others. (4 Sep 2014)


296-a-09-(Debbie Sacra (SAY’-krah), wife of Dr. Rick Sacra, with reporters)-“with the Lord”-Debbie Sacra, wife of Dr. Rick Sacra, says her husband is ready if it’s time for him to die. (4 Sep 2014)


292-a-11-(Debbi Sacra (SAY’-krah), wife of Dr. Rick Sacra, with reporters)-“onto the plane”-Debbi Sacra, wife of Dr. Rick Sacra, says she spoke to a doctor in Liberia who put her Ebola-infected husband on a plane to the U.S. (4 Sep 2014)


291-v-31-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor)–The latest U.S. missionary to be infected with Ebola in Liberia is being flown to Nebraska for treatment, according to his mission agency. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (4 Sep 2014)


032-v-31-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor)–The wife of the third American missionary to contract the Ebola virus says she’s trusting God as she prays for his recovery. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (4 Sep 2014)


063-a-06-(Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA, at news conference Wednesday)-“which we face”-SIM USA President Bruce Johnson says American missionaries continue to serve in Liberia despite the personal danger. ((cut used in wrap)) (4 Sep 2014)


031-w-32-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with SIM USA President Bruce Johnson, and SIM missionary David Writebol)–American missionaries continue to treat Ebola patients in West Africa despite the risk to their own health. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (4 Sep 2014)


065-a-11-(David Writebol, SIM missionary and husband of Nancy Writebol, at news conference Wednesday)-“to the world”-SIM missionary David Writebol says Christians serve in places like Liberia to follow Christ’s example. ((longer version of cut used in wrap)) (4 Sep 2014)


064-a-06-(Nancy Writebol, SIM missionary who recovered from Ebola, at news conference Wednesday)-“Lord was leading”-SIM missionary Nancy Writebol says there’s a question she and her husband have been asked about their service in Liberia. (4 Sep 2014)



Ex-Virginia gov, wife guilty of public corruption

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife have been convicted of taking bribes to promote a dietary supplement in a corruption case that derailed the career of the onetime rising Republican star and laid bare the couple’s broken marriage.

A federal jury in Richmond convicted Bob McDonnell of 11 of the 13 counts he faced; Maureen McDonnell was convicted of nine of the 13 counts she faced. Both bowed their heads and wept as the court clerk read a chorus of “guilty” verdicts.

Widely considered a possible running mate for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential campaign, McDonnell was reduced to living with the family’s priest in a church rectory during the trial. Now he and his wife face up to 30 years in prison on most counts, including conspiracy, fraud and bribery. Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 6.

As he left the courthouse, McDonnell told reporters who mobbed him, “All I can say is that my trust remains in the Lord.”


Woman in Chicago killed by falling masonry

CHICAGO (AP) — A woman walking along a Chicago street with a friend was killed when she was struck by masonry that fell from a landmark church.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office identifies the victim as 34-year-old Sara Bean. Police say the masonry fell from the Second Presbyterian Church around noon Thursday and struck Bean in the head. The mother of two young boys was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Building Department spokeswoman Mimi Simon says a metal star at the top of the church’s tower fell off, removing the head of a gargoyle on the way down. The building has failed inspections in the past, but passed inspection in 2013.

The church, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was where Mary Todd Lincoln and Marshall Field worshipped.


Tennessee Supreme Court to hear faith healing case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee woman convicted of child neglect in her daughter’s cancer death is asking the state Supreme Court to declare that she was innocent when she relied on prayer to heal the girl.

Jacqueline Crank was sentenced to unsupervised probation after her 15-year-old daughter died of Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2002. Despite the light sentence, Crank has pursued the case for more than 10 years, arguing that faith-healing should be legal for everyone.

Tennessee law does protect faith-healing but only when performed by an accredited practitioner of a recognized church or religious denomination.

Crank followed the advice and counsel of a man accredited by the Universal Life Church.

Testimony showed the Universal Life Church will accredit anyone who fills out an application.


Church can’t host Weight Watchers due to zoning

EAST WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) — A church is threatening to leave a western Pennsylvania borough because zoning officials have told the congregation it no longer can host Weight Watchers meetings in its social hall.

The Rev. Stephen Smythers won’t say how much the First Christian Church in East Washington earns from hosting the meetings several times a week. But he says the congregation, which has about 150 active members, needs the income, especially under a new ordinance forcing the church and other property owners to rebuild their street curbs.

Borough officials contend the municipality — which is less than a half-mile square — is zoned only for residences and institutions, like the church. As a result, for-profit businesses like Weight Watchers are forbidden.

The church, which has been in the borough since 1968, started renting its hall to Weight Watchers in March. Smythers said the church might move or, at the very least, stop letting Washington County use its social hall as a polling place if the dispute isn’t resolved.


Cardinal to lead St. Pat parade with 1st gay group

NEW YORK (AP) — The Roman Catholic archbishop of New York is drawing attention for his decision to stay on as grand marshal of next year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Organizers of the city event said Wednesday they’re allowing the first gay contingent to march under its own banner.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a statement that parade organizers have his “confidence and support”, and he thanked them for keeping the parade “close to its Catholic heritage.”

Advocates for gay rights within the Catholic Church are cheering Dolan’s decision as his “Pope Francis moment.” Francis has said he wants church leaders to focus more on mercy than divisive social issues.

But some theological conservatives say Dolan is sending the wrong signal about church teaching on marriage. They’re urging him to step down as grand marshal.


Israel’s Peres pitches “UN of Religions” to pope

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Retired Israeli President Shimon Peres has proposed a new global peace initiative to Pope Francis: A “United Nations of Religions,” given that many wars have religious rather than nationalistic undercurrents.

The Vatican said Peres pitched the initiative during a 45-minute audience Thursday in the Apostolic Palace. The two men last met when Francis invited the then-Israeli president and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to pray for peace together in the Vatican gardens on June 8. A few weeks later, war broke out in the Gaza Strip.

Peres told the Catholic publication Famiglia Cristiana that the U.N. is ill-suited to handle today’s conflicts and that a “‘U.N. of Religions’ is the best way to fight terrorists who kill in the name of God.”

Francis promised the Vatican’s attention to the proposal.


Peoria diocese: Sheen canonization bid stalls

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Peoria says a bid to canonize the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen — an Illinois native — is stalled indefinitely.

The Pantagraph newspaper reports that Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky sought to have Sheen’s body brought to Peoria to be inspected, and for relics to have been collected as part of the canonization process. But the Archdiocese of New York won’t release Sheen’s body to the Peoria diocese as part of the process.

Advocates who want Sheen to be made a saint have finished an investigation into a miracle they attribute to Sheen.

Sheen died in 1979 and is entombed in New York, where he spent much of his career and gained national fame for his radio and television commentaries.


Hawaii foundation to pay $843K for discrimination

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission is holding a research organization and its CEO liable for religious and sexual harassment and discrimination against a former executive director.

The commission announced the decision Wednesday finding that Kay Lorraine Bate was fired as executive director of Research Institute of Hawaii USA because of her religion and for complaining about the harassment.

The foundation and CEO Christopher Damon Haig are ordered to pay Bate more than $843,000 in back pay and damages.

The commission says Haig’s harassment was based on Bate being Jewish and a woman.

Attorney Bruce Voss says the foundation is disappointed with the commission’s decision and wants to have the claims re-tried before a Circuit Court jury.


Judge denies release of Ohio woman in Amish case

CLEVELAND (AP) — A federal judge has rejected a bid for release by a woman serving two years in connection with beard- and hair-cutting attacks targeting Amish.

U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster in Cleveland says the request by Linda Schrock is premature. Schrock was imprisoned in March 2013.

Her attorney last week said she should be released because a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned hate-crime convictions of 16 men and women. They were convicted after five attacks in 2011 that were in apparent retaliation against Amish who defied or denounced the authoritarian style of Sam Mullet Sr., leader of the Bergholz community in eastern Ohio.

But Polster said this week that federal prosecutors could still appeal that ruling. They also say her conspiracy conviction remains intact.


Report: Dalai Lama again refused South Africa visa

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The Dalai Lama’s South Africa representative says that he has again been refused entry into the country to attend the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.

Nangsa Choedon said officials from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation called her to say the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visa was denied, according to the Cape Times newspaper.

The department says the South African high commission in India received a visa application from the Dalai Lama’s office, and it will be taken through normal due process.

The annual summit is being held in Cape Town next month.