Update on the latest religion news

KILLINGS BY POLICE-FERGUSON-PASTOR

Pastor disappointed that Ferguson officer won’t face charges

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Rev. Tommie Pierson says he and his congregation are disappointed that the police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown last August in Ferguson, Missouri, won’t face charges.

Pierson is senior pastor of Greater St. Mark Family Church, where Brown’s parents appeared Thursday at a news conference announcing plans for a wrongful death suit against the city of Ferguson and former Officer Darren Wilson.

The Department of Justice cleared Wilson of federal civil rights charges in Brown’s death. But it also called for sweeping changes in a city where officers trade racist emails, issue tickets mostly to black drivers that generate millions of dollars in revenue, and routinely use what investigators called excessive force on people stopped for minor or nonexistent offenses.

Pierson says, “People want to feel safe in their communities.” He adds that if a police officer “doesn’t make you feel safe, then who will?”

Sound:

262-a-18-(Pastor Tommie Pierson, Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church, who is also a Missouri State Representative, in AP interview)-“ands community leaders”-Pastor Tommie Pierson, who is also a Missouri State Representative, says he wants the Ferguson police chief out and the entire department disbanded. (5 Mar 2015)

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263-a-14-(Pastor Tommie Pierson, Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church, who is also a Missouri State Representative, in AP interview)-“solve that problem”-Pastor Tommie Pierson, who is also a Missouri State Representative, says you can’t just fire a few Ferguson police officers, the entire department needs to be disbanded. (5 Mar 2015)

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264-a-10-(Pastor Tommie Pierson, Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church, who is also a Missouri State Representative, in AP interview)-“no old news”-Pastor Tommie Pierson, who is also a Missouri State Representative, says both he and his wife have been profiled and stopped by Ferguson police for invalid reasons. (5 Mar 2015)

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254-a-07-(The Rev. Tommie Pierson, senior pastor of Greater St. Mark Family Church, in AP interview)-“then who will”-The Rev. Tommie Pierson, senior pastor of Greater St. Mark Family Church, says many members of his congregation fear the police. ((cut used in wrap)) (5 Mar 2015)

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252-w-31-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with the Rev. Tommie Pierson, senior pastor of Greater St. Mark Family Church)–The Rev. Tommie Pierson says he and his congregation are disappointed that the police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown last August in Ferguson, Missouri, won’t face charges. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (5 Mar 2015)

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253-a-08-(The Rev. Tommie Pierson, senior pastor of Greater St. Mark Family Church, in AP interview)-“pay for it”-The Rev. Tommie Pierson, senior pastor of Greater St. Mark Family Church, says he thinks the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown should have been charged. ((longer version of cut used in wrap)) (5 Mar 2015)

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OBIT-CARDINAL EGAN

Cardinal Egan, retired NY archbishop, dies at age 82

NEW YORK (AP) — Roman Catholic Cardinal Edward Egan, the former archbishop of New York, has died. He was 82.

The Archdiocese of New York says Egan died Thursday afternoon at a New York hospital. The cause of death was cardiac arrest.

Pope John Paul II had appointed Egan as leader of the archdiocese in 2000 to succeed the late Cardinal John O’Connor. Egan was archbishop during the Sept. 11 terror attacks, anointing the dead at a lower Manhattan hospital and presiding over many funerals for victims.

He was a scholar of church law and spoke Latin fluently. John Paul chose him to help with the massive job of reviewing a revised canon law code for the global church.

A native of Illinois, Egan retired as New York archbishop in 2009.

Sound:

251-v-33-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor)–Cardinal Edward Egan, the former Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, has died at the age of 82. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (5 Mar 2015)

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248-w-35-(Warren Levinson, AP correspondent, with Cardinal Edward Egan, former Roman Catholic archbishop of New York)–New York City’s retired Cardinal Edward Egan has died. AP correspondent Warren Levinson reports. (5 Mar 2015)

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250-a-14-(Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, with reporters)-“made me laugh”-Cardinal Timothy Dolan says his predecessor Edward Egan was a good administrator but a warm guy. (5 Mar 2015)

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249-a-13-(Cardinal Edward Egan, former Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, with AP correspondent Warren Levinson, on March 17, 2009)-“in New York”-Cardinal Edward Egan was playful as he presided over his last St. Patrick’s Day parade as archbishop. Updated: 03/05/2015-04:30:09 PM ET (5 Mar 2015)

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CANADA-NORTH KOREA-PASTOR

Family: Canadian pastor has been detained in North Korea

TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s government has confirmed that a Canadian pastor has been detained in North Korea.

That’s according to relatives of the Rev. Hyeon (YUN) Soo Lim, who pastors the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto.

Lisa Pak, a spokeswoman for the family and the church, said Lim is facing charges but could not say what they are.

Pak said Lim was supposed to return from a humanitarian trip to North Korea more than a month ago. She said he has not been heard from since he travelled to North Korea on Jan. 31 as part of a regular humanitarian mission where he supports a nursing home, a nursery and an orphanage.

Pak said the 60-year-old pastor has made over 100 trips to North Korea, and that his mission trips are about helping people and not political.

Pak said the family and the church community are asking fellow Canadians and the international community to continue praying for his release and safe return home.

ANTARCTICA-CHURCH AT WORLD’S END

Church bells summon worshippers to church in Antarctica

KING GEORGE ISLAND, Antarctica — Church bells summon worshippers to the world’s southernmost Russian Orthodox church on Antarctica’s King George Island.

The greyish clapboard church was first built in Russia, then disassembled and shipped log-by-log to Antarctica, where it was consecrated in 2004. To protect it from strong winds, Holy Trinity Church is bound to the nearby rocky mountain with chains.

Russian priests rotate in for yearlong stints, primarily to celebrate Mass for the handful of workers on the Russian Bellinghausen base.

During Sunday Mass, the Rev. Sophrony Kirilov reads from the scriptures in Russian and sings in an angelic voice.

The tiny church is nearly 10,000 miles from Kirilov’s monastery near Moscow, but he says, “Here, you can calmly pray to God in peace and quiet.”

Sound:

353-r-26-(The Rev. Sophrony Kirilov, Russian Orthodox priest, singing a Bible passage at Sunday Mass)–Sound of the Rev. Sophrony Kirilov, a Russian Orthodox priest, singing a Bible passage at Sunday Mass. (5 Mar 2015)

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352-r-17-(Church bells ringing, at Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church)–Sound of church bells ringing at Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church in Antarctica. (5 Mar 2015)

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GEORGIA-RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Ga. Senate passes controversial ‘religious freedom’ bill

ATLANTA (AP) — A controversial “religious freedom” bill has passed Georgia’s state Senate.

Senators approved the bill by a vote of 37-15 on Thursday. The legislation would forbid state government from infringing on a person’s religious beliefs unless the government can prove it has a compelling interest.

Opponents say the bill could be used to defend discrimination, particularly against LGBT individuals. But its sponsor, Republican state Sen. Josh McKoon, says that hasn’t happened in other states with similar laws.

Clergy have taken both sides of the issue, and former Attorney General Mike Bowers who defended the state’s anti-sodomy law recently came out against the bill.

Georgia is one of several states considering similar legislation this year. A similar House bill remains in a committee.

GAY RIGHTS-RELIGIOUS RIGHTS

Utah LGBT anti-discrimination bill passes 1st test

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah’s governor says he’ll sign a landmark proposal protecting gay and transgender individuals and religious rights if the bill makes it to his desk.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert told reporters Thursday afternoon that he thinks it will please advocates on both sides and could serve as a model for other states.

The proposal passed its first test at the state Legislature on Thursday morning, winning the unanimous support of a GOP-controlled Senate committee.

The bill, which has earned the rare stamp of approval from the Utah-based Mormon church, bars discrimination against gay and transgender individuals while protecting the rights of religious groups and individuals.

Lawmakers became emotional during the two hour hearing as gay and transgender residents and religious and conservative groups spoke for and against the measure.

BUDDHIST TEMPLE-FATAL FIRE

Firefighter says 1 dead after Fort Smith temple fire

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — A fire department official in Fort Smith, Arkansas, says one person has died in a fire at a Buddhist temple.

Assistant Chief Terry Bigler says the building was engulfed in flames when firefighters responded early Thursday morning. He says there was one fatality but information about the person killed wasn’t immediately known.

It took firefighters about six hours to extinguish the flames.

The department’s preliminary estimate is that the blaze caused $120,000 in damage to the building and $110,000 to contents inside.

Officials say the cause of the fire wasn’t immediately known and the city fire marshal is investigating.

Bigler says the blaze is the first fatal fire of the year in the city.

UNITED NATIONS-RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

UN rights chief denounces anti-religious attacks

GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is denouncing what he calls “the rising tide of attacks around the world that target people on account of their religious beliefs.”

Zeid Raad al-Hussein told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday that he’s appalled that believers are increasingly being attacked in their places of worship.

Churches have been attacked in Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Mosques have been targeted by extremists from rival branches of Islam in Iraq and Pakistan, and a synagogue was attacked last month in Denmark.

Zeid, who comes from Jordan, emphasized that prejudice against Muslims, Jews, Christians and other groups are all “manifestations of the same poisonous intolerance.”

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228-a-12-(Zeid Raad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council)-“places of worship”-Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, says people of faith are under increasing attack around the world. (5 Mar 2015)

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229-a-13-(Zeid Raad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council)-“same poisonous intolerance”-Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, says Christians, Jews, Muslims and others are being attacked, often in their places of worship. (5 Mar 2015)

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UNITED NATIONS-ISLAMIC STATE

UN rights chief: discredit IS, give peaceful Muslims courage

GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations’ human rights chief is advocating an effort to discredit the Islamic State group and encourage peaceful Muslims to take a stand against extremist violence.

Zeid Raad al-Hussein told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday that many IS recruits “may genuinely feel they are signing up to protect the abused” because of propaganda.

Zeid says the fact that the majority of the group’s victims are Muslims has received less publicity and “a real campaign of ideas to discredit (IS) will need to mobilize such facts.”

He says it should encourage the tolerant majority of Muslims “to take a stand and voice the essential nature of their faith.”

Zeid, who comes from Jordan, says fighting extremist violence also requires tackling “the visions of injustice that fuel it.”

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218-a-05-(Zeid Raad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council)-“protect the abused”-U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein says many recruits to the Islamic State group think they’re defending Muslims. (5 Mar 2015)

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220-a-08-(Zeid Raad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council)-“as religious groups”-U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein says the Islamic State group celebrates its atrocities. (5 Mar 2015)

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219-a-13-(Zeid Raad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council)-“of their faith”-U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein says a campaign is needed to discredit the Islamic State group’s propaganda. (5 Mar 2015)

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PAKISTAN-RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

Pakistan religious schools in spotlight

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AP) —Following the Pakistani Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar in December that killed 150 people — almost all of them children — the Pakistani government has been under intense pressure to show that it is combating militancy and terrorism.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has proposed measures aimed at ending religious extremism and protecting minorities.

The action plan includes a proposal to register and regulate religious seminaries — often called madrassas — which face accusations of incubating religious extremism. Critics say the religious schools operate with little to no oversight of their curriculum, do not prepare students with real-world skills and often promote religious intolerance.

But many of those working at religious schools say they are being unfairly painted as contributing to militancy.

There’s no exact number of madrassas in Pakistan but estimates put the number in the tens of thousands. They provide food, housing and a religious education.