Update on the latest religion news


Cruz enlists pastors to defund Planned Parenthood

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is urging the nation’s pastors to mobilize their congregations in a push to defund Planned Parenthood.

In an email sent to 100,000 evangelical pastors over the weekend, Cruz cites what he calls “Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practices of harvesting the body parts of innocent babies and selling them to the highest bidder.”

Planned Parenthood says many women donate their aborted fetuses and that the money it collects from biomedical researchers only covers costs.

In his email and an online video, Cruz asks the pastors to join a Tuesday afternoon conference call about a defunding fight he plans to lead in the coming weeks. He says pastors will be asked to preach a sermon on abortion this coming Sunday and lead their congregations in a “day of prayer and fasting” on Sept. 9.

The Texas senator is one of several candidates seeking support from evangelical Christians, who comprise a large proportion of voters in early primary states.


253-a-08-(Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in online message to pastors)-“this ongoing holocaust”-GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz says religious leaders are essential to stopping the abortions performed by Planned Parenthood. ((cut used in wrap)) (24 Aug 2015)


252-w-35-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas)–Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is urging the nation’s pastors to mobilize their congregations in a push to defund Planned Parenthood. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (24 Aug 2015)


254-a-07-(Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in online message to pastors)-“to this tragedy”-GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz says pastors can join him in a Tuesday afternoon conference call on how to defund Planned Parenthood. (24 Aug 2015)



Walker calls for cancellation of Chinese president’s visit

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Scott Walker says President Barack Obama needs to have some “backbone” and cancel a planned official state visit next month by the president of China.

The Wisconsin governor and presidential candidate said Monday the planned visit of Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) should be canceled in light of the U.S. stock market’s tumble, which Walker says was driven by China’s manipulation of their economy.

Walker says Obama should hold China accountable for what he calls its “increasing attempts to undermine U.S. interests.” Walker cites “massive cyber attacks against America, its militarization of the South China Sea, continued state interference with its economy, and persistent persecution of Christians and human rights activists.”

The tough words come as Walker is trying to show more spark to energize his campaign.


Man charged in Jewish site killings sought to explain motive

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A white supremacist who wanted to explain to jurors his motive for killing three people at Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City has been interrupted by the trial judge, who told him the first phase of the capital murder trial was to focus solely on whether he committed the crimes — not why.

Frazier Glenn Miller, who is representing himself, made it only a few words into the first sentence of his opening statement Monday before assistant District Attorney Chris McMullin objected and jurors were removed from the courtroom.

The 74-year-old Miller had told Johnson County Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan earlier that he twice offered to plead guilty to first-degree murder if prosecutors would take the death penalty off the table, but they refused. He started to tell jurors of those failed offers before McMullin spoke up.

At multiple hearings leading up to the trial, Miller had admitted that he killed William Corporon, 69, and Corporon’s 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, and Terri LaManno, 53, at the nearby Village Shalom retirement center on April 13, 2014. None of the three was Jewish.


Jerusalem gay pride parade attacker charged with murder

JERUSALEM (AP) — An ultra-Orthodox Jew who fatally stabbed a teenage girl at a Jerusalem gay pride parade has been indicted on a murder charge.

Jerusalem’s District Court indicted Yishai Schlissel for murder on Monday for last month’s deadly attack, along with multiple attempted murder charges for those he wounded.

Schlissel, who had been freed from prison weeks earlier after serving a sentence for stabbing several people at the city’s pride parade in 2005, stabbed six people at the July 30 parade. One of them, 16-year-old Shira Banki, later died of her wounds.

Jerusalem, known for its rich religious history and tradition, holds a modest gay pride parade annually in contrast to the large parade in the nearby liberal city of Tel Aviv, which drew over 100,000 people this year.


Armed men launch attack in Burkina Faso near Mali

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Suspected Islamic militants have wounded at least two people in an attack targeting Christians near Burkina Faso’s border with Mali, according to a witness and a security official.

Witness Alassane Hamidou told The Associated Press that when he went to a police station in the town of Oursi and knocked on the door, three masked gunmen inside told him to lie down on the ground. Hamidou said the assailants told him, “There are no police here now — it is Boko Haram from now on.” He said they added, “We are looking for Christians, and you are spared because you are a Muslim.”

No extremist group immediately took responsibility for Monday’s violence, and even though the attackers mentioned Boko Haram it wasn’t known whether they had any connection to the Nigeria-based group that has launched attacks in Niger, Chad and Cameroon.


Inmates work to create chair for pope’s Philly prison visit

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Inmates in Philadelphia are creating a stately chair to give to Pope Francis when he visits their prison next month.

At a prison workshop on Monday, inmates worked to sand and refinish the wooden chair, which stands nearly 6 feet tall.

Another group of inmates previously hand-carved the piece out of walnut. Soon, it will be sent to the nearby Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility to be upholstered by other inmates. Francis plans to go there Sept. 27 to meet with about 100 inmates and some of their relatives during a two-day trip to the city.

Francis has made prison ministry a focus of his pontificate. He meets frequently with inmates and on two occasions washed prisoners’ feet during pre-Easter rituals.


229-a-05-(Evan Davis, inmate at Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, helped make chair for Pope Francis, in AP interview)-“for the Pope”-Philadelphia prison inmate Evan Davis says he’s glad he was selected to help make a hand-carved walnut chair that will be given to Pope Francis when he visits the city. (24 Aug 2015)


230-a-12-(Hakiem (ha-KEEM’) Burke, inmate, Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, in AP interview while painting wood finish on a detail piece for a chair to be given to Pope Francis)-“I believe in”-Philadelphia prison inmate Hakiem Burke says he doesn’t have to be a Catholic to take pride in the quality of his work. (24 Aug 2015)


232-r-07-(Sound of Michael Green, inmate at Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, hand-sanding a carved wooden seal for a chair that will be given to Pope Francis during his visit)–Sound of Michael Green, an inmate at Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, hand-sanding carved wooden seal for a chair that will be given to Pope Francis during his visit (24 Aug 2015)


231-a-15-(Anthony Newman, chair designer and assistant director, PHILACOR, inmate vocational program, in AP interview)-“is good enough”-Anthony Newman with PHILACOR, the vocational program whose inmates hand-made a walnut chair to be given to Pope Francis, says he hopes the pontiff puts the chair he designed to good use. (24 Aug 2015)



California priest gets prison in sexual abuse during flight

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California-based Catholic priest has been sentenced to six months in prison followed by six months of home confinement for groping a sleeping woman seated next to him on an airliner.

Marcelo de Jesumaria, 46, was sentenced in federal court in Los Angeles. A jury found him guilty in May of felony abusive sexual contact after a mistrial in March.

Jesumaria touched the sleeping woman’s buttocks, breast and groin during a nighttime flight last August from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, according to prosecutors.

The woman, a model, says she woke up as Jesumaria was touching her and reported the abuse to flight attendants and later an FBI agent. Jesumaria told the agent that he enjoys “cozy flights” with women and had changed his seat to be next to the woman, but he denied touching her, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors say Jesumaria was able to switch seats by lying to a flight attendant that the woman was his wife.

Jesumaria was previously with the Diocese of San Bernardino, California. The diocese said in a statement that Jesumaria’s actions are “sinful and unlawful.”


Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese files bankruptcy settlement

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee has filed a bankruptcy settlement plan that will divvy up $21 million among more than 300 victims of clergy sex abuse.

The archdiocese submitted the bankruptcy reorganization late Monday.

The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2011 to address its sex abuse lawsuit liabilities. A judge will review the plan in November.

The creditors’ committee, which comprises five abuse victims, is expected to endorse the deal.

Victims’ advocates, however, have criticized several aspects of the agreement and plan to address issues including victims’ compensation before bankruptcy Judge Susan Kelley reviews the case this fall.


Portland archbishop apologizes for priest who hid camera

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The archbishop of Portland, Oregon, has apologized for placing too much trust in a priest who is suspected of hiding a camera in a church bathroom.

The Oregonian reports that archbishop Rev. Alexander Sample said Sunday that he feels betrayed by 34-year-old Father Ysrael Bien and understands that parishioners may also be feeling deeply hurt.

The camera was discovered in late April by a 15-year-old boy at St. Francis Catholic Church in Sherwood, Oregon. Police said records showed Bien had ordered the device and had it shipped to his residence.

The archdiocese suspended Bien on June 24 after learning about a police investigation. Police believe Bien fled to the Philippines on June 30. A warrant for his arrest was issued last week. Sample says he has ordered Bien to return to the country but the priest is refusing.


Former priest being returned to Kentucky in child porn case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A former Louisville priest has appeared in Florida on child pornography charges and will be returned to Kentucky.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Louisville says 57-year-old Stephen Pohl was charged in a complaint unsealed Monday with knowingly accessing with intent to view images of child pornography on two computers at St. Margaret Mary Parish. The church has a school on its Louisville campus.

Pohl was arrested Friday night in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, and was in the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service. He will be transported to Louisville for a detention hearing.

Archdiocese of Louisville officials said Friday that FBI investigators found 200 images of students from the school on Pohl’s computer. The students were clothed but some of the images were “inappropriate.”

Pohl resigned on Thursday.


Northern Arapaho Tribe calls on feds to drop eagle appeal

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Northern Arapaho Tribe is calling on the federal government to drop a legal appeal that’s blocking the tribe from getting a permit to kill bald eagles for religious purposes.

The federal government recently appealed a decision by U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson of Cheyenne, Wyoming, that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Northern Arapaho’s religious rights by denying it permission to kill eagles for its annual Sun Dance.

Dean Goggles is chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council. Goggles wrote last week to U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli asking him to drop the federal government’s appeal on religious grounds.

Ivy Allen is tribal liaison with the Fish and Wildlife Service in Lakewood, Colo. She said Monday she couldn’t comment on the matter because it’s in litigation.