Update on the latest religion news

EX-MUSLIM-REFORMATION APPEAL

Former Muslim says Islam needs a reformation

WASHINGTON (AP) — A prominent ex-Muslim says the religion she abandoned needs a reformation to become civilized.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington that although she’s now an atheist, she can see there’s a difference between “the Christian God” and the Allah that Muslims worship.

Ali said the harshest thing Christians have ever said to her is that they would pray for her conversion, but Muslims have threatened to kill her for leaving Islam.

The author of “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now” said she hopes Islam will someday become as peaceful as Christianity and Judaism.

Sound:

245-w-32-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now”)–A prominent ex-Muslim says the religion she abandoned needs a reformation to become civilized. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (7 Apr 2015)

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247-a-06-(Ayaan Hirsi Ali (EYE’-yahn HER’-see ah-LEE’), author of “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now”, addressing the National Press Club)-“god in 2015 (second reference)”-Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now,” says Allah isn’t the same God that Christians worship. (7 Apr 2015)

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250-a-11-(Ayaan Hirsi Ali (EYE’-yahn HER’-see ah-LEE’), author of “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now”, addressing the National Press Club)-“become so civilized”-Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now,” says Christianity and Judaism have become peaceful, tolerant religions. (7 Apr 2015)

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248-a-13-(Ayaan Hirsi Ali (EYE’-yahn HER’-see ah-LEE’), author of “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now”, addressing the National Press Club)-“you’ll be redeemed”-Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now,” says Christians have never threatened to kill her for blasphemy. ((longer version of cut used in wrap) (7 Apr 2015)

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246-a-09-(Ayaan Hirsi Ali (EYE’-yahn HER’-see ah-LEE’), author of “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now”, addressing the National Press Club)-“converting to them”-Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now,” says all religions aren’t the same. (7 Apr 2015)

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249-a-13-(Ayaan Hirsi Ali (EYE’-yahn HER’-see ah-LEE’), author of “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now”, addressing the National Press Club)-“are to die”-Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now,” says Muslims don’t have the tolerance she’s experienced from Christians. ((longer version of cut used in wrap)) (7 Apr 2015)

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OBAMA-PRAYER BREAKFAST

Obama mixes mild poke at critics into prayer breakfast

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has welcomed Christian leaders to the White House for a post-Easter prayer breakfast, delivering remarks that included a mild poke at his critics.

Obama said Christians are supposed to love their neighbors, but he said he sometimes hears “less-than-loving expressions by Christians.”

He quickly added, “But that’s a topic for another day,” to laughter and applause, then joked, “I was about to veer off. I’m pulling it back.”

Vice President Joe Biden, Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl and the Rev. Al Sharpton were among the guests at Tuesday’s event.

Christian singer Amy Grant sang “Thy Word is a Lamp unto my Feet.”

Sound:

261-w-32-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with President Barack Obama and Christian singer Amy Grant)–In a post-Easter prayer breakfast at the White House, President Barack Obama has taken a mild poke at his critics. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (7 Apr 2015)

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151-a-15-(President Barack Obama, at Easter Prayer Breakfast)-“they’re leaving me”-President Obama says he hopes Americans are remembering him in their prayers — especially now that his girls are approaching college age. (7 Apr 2015)

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149-a-11-(President Barack Obama, at Easter Prayer Breakfast)-“make them so”-President Obama says Easter is the most optimistic of holidays. (7 Apr 2015)

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150-a-12-(President Barack Obama, at Easter Prayer Breakfast)-“to do better”-President Obama says Easter is a time to reflect on our imperfections — and on how we are all still children of God. (7 Apr 2015)

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152-r-42-(Sound of singer Amy Grant entertaining, at Easter Prayer Breakfast)–Sound of singer Amy Grant entertaining, at Easter Prayer Breakfast. (7 Apr 2015)

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NIELSENS-EASTER PROGRAMS

Bible programs draw Easter audiences

NEW YORK (AP) — The latest Nielsen ratings show biblical programs pulled big audiences on Easter Sunday.

In prime-time last week, Sunday’s premiere of “A.D., The Bible Continues” on NBC was a Top Ten show with 9.7 million viewers. That was, however, a million viewers less than “The Bible” miniseries, also produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, attracted on the History channel last year.

Also this Easter, ABC’s traditional airing of the movie “The Ten Commandments” reached 6.9 million viewers.

The top-rated show for the week of March 30-April 5 was the Final Four basketball game between Wisconsin and Kentucky on TBS, with 16.8 million viewers.

ANTI-GAY CAKE DISCRIMINATION

Cakes bake tension between gay rights, religious objections

DENVER (AP) — Some Colorado bakeries that turned away customers are highlighting the growing conflict between gay rights and religious rights.

In one dispute, a gay couple who wanted a wedding cake filed a complaint against a Christian baker who turned them away, citing his religious belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Baker Jack Phillips faces fines and his appeal is pending in a state court.

The other case has developed along opposite lines, with a Christian customer who requested a cake with an anti-gay biblical message saying he’s been discriminated against by shops that refused him. That customer’s complaint was rejected last month by Colorado’s Civil Rights Division, but he plans to appeal.

State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain, says all of the bakers should be protected by the First Amendment, but “the Colorado government only punishes Christian bakers.”

MINOT BURGLARIES

Grand Forks man charged in Minot church burglary

MINOT, N.D. (AP) — Authorities in Minot, North Dakota, have charged one man but police say they are still looking for others involved in a string of church burglaries.

Twenty-three-year-old Ryan Every is charged with burglary and theft of services for his alleged connection to a burglary at Our Redeemer’s Church. Minot police Captain John Klug says they arrested the Grand Forks man Monday after they investigated him based on an anonymous tip.

Authorities say seven churches have been targeted in the last several weeks, including three last Wednesday. One of the recent burglary attempts was thwarted by a pastor.

At least two businesses also have recently been burglarized.

Every also is charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

FRANKLIN COUNTY-LAWSUIT

Suit: Indiana county wrongly denied Satanic Temple display

BROOKVILLE, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana county that hosts a Nativity scene outside its courthouse each year is facing a lawsuit filed on behalf of The Satanic Temple.

The Indianapolis Star reports that the ACLU of Indiana sued Franklin County, saying officials violated the Constitution in refusing to let some groups put up displays outside the courthouse in Brookville.

The Massachusetts-based Satanic Temple and the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sought permits for courthouse displays. But Franklin County denied them, saying its ordinance only allows displays from residents.

The ACLU sued Franklin County in December, saying the Nativity scene is an endorsement of Christianity. The display is a 50-year-old tradition for Brookville residents, and it’s paid for and put up by volunteers.

MISSING AMISH GIRLS

Plea deal offered NY couple in kidnapping of 2 Amish girls

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A new trial date has been set for the couple charged with kidnapping two Amish girls from a northern New York produce stand, while the accused consider a possible plea agreement.

Stephen Howells and girlfriend Nicole Vaisey were charged last summer with sexually exploiting the Amish girls and other children.

Their federal trial is scheduled July 6 on charges they coerced minors to make pornographic videos. They also face state kidnapping charges.

St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain says the defendants have been offered a plea agreement to settle both cases, which would avoid having the victims testify. Terms were not disclosed.

The couple’s house was later bought by a neighbor. It was burned down as a fire department training exercise and the debris was cleared.

CHURCH ABUSE-MAINE

Letter could open door to more church sex abuse lawsuits

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A lawyer says a newly revealed letter indicating Roman Catholic Church officials knew about allegations that a Maine priest was abusing children in 1956 opens the door to lawsuits by additional victims.

Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian says the 2005 letter referring to abuse allegations against the Rev. James Vallely shows the bishop at the time knew about allegations earlier than previously stated. He says that disclosure opens the door to lawsuits against the Portland diocese by victims who previously were shut out by Maine’s statute of limitations.

Garabedian has already settled one fraudulent concealment case. He says he is representing five of Vallely’s victims from the 1960s and 1970s. Vallely died in 1997.

Current Bishop Robert P. Deeley on Tuesday acknowledged past mistakes and said church leaders must “do everything possible to see that history does not repeat itself.”