Update on the latest religion news


Former president promotes religious basis for women’s equality

ATLANTA (AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter says his Carter Center continues to promote women’s equality with international religious leaders.

Carter says his non-profit has been trying to convince Christian and Muslim clergy that their Scriptures don’t teach that women are subservient to men.

At a Carter Center event Tuesday evening, the former president said that in the Bible and Quran “there is no allegation by God or Allah that women are inferior in any way.” He said clerics are being pointed to parts of their Scriptures that guarantee equality of treatment for women.

Carter said a recent Sunday school lesson he taught on forgiveness also applied to international diplomacy, where deep grievances often must be forgiven. But the former president called for the destruction of the Islamic State group, noting its persecution of Christians and others it disagrees with.

On a personal note, Carter said treatments for his brain cancer have started and are going well so far.


308-a-09-(Former President Jimmy Carter, at Carter Center event)-“subject was forgiveness”-Former President Jimmy Carter says negotiations between nations often require leaders to forgive each other. (15 Sep 2015)


307-a-12-(Former President Jimmy Carter, at Carter Center event)-“about these facts”-Former President Jimmy Carter says the world’s Scriptures don’t teach that women are inferior. (15 Sep 2015)


306-a-09-(Former President Jimmy Carter, at Carter Center event)-“in any way”-Former President Jimmy Carter says the Carter Center is trying to convince religious leaders that their Scriptures don’t make women subservient to men. ((cut used in wrap)) (15 Sep 2015)


309-a-14-(Former President Jimmy Carter, at Carter Center event)-“where they live”-Former President Jimmy Carter says the Islamic State group must be defeated. (15 Sep 2015)


305-w-32-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editgor, with former President Jimmy Carter)–Former President Jimmy Carter says his Carter Center continues to promote women’s equality with international religious leaders. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (15 Sep 2015)



Court again denies Kim Davis’ bid to delay marriage licenses

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A federal appeals court has reiterated that embattled Kentucky clerk Kim Davis “has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success” in her legal bid to exempt her office from licensing same-sex marriages.

On Tuesday, the day after Davis returned to work following a stint in jail for defying a federal judge, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals shot down another of her requests to delay issuing the licenses.

After four couples sued Davis for refusing them licenses, she filed a counter lawsuit against Gov. Steve Beshear, alleging that he improperly instructed clerks to abide by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June that legalized gay marriage. The appeals court rejected her request to delay that directive.

Davis, an Apostolic Christian, has one more request for reprieve pending before the appeals court.


Religious clerks in Kentucky follow law, but see conflict

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Most of Kentucky’s 120 county clerks have complied with the Supreme Court’s order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, though many have struggled with the decision.

Mike Johnston says he prayed about it, asking the Lord to understand the decision he made to license same-sex marriage. Johnston works in Carter County, just to the east of Rowan County, where clerk Kim Davis sparked a national furor by refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. That decision landed her in jail.

Johnston is one of Kentucky’s 119 other clerks, many of them deeply religious, who watched the Kim Davis saga unfold on national television while trying to reconcile their own faith and their oath of office. Sixteen of them sent pleading letters to the governor noting their own religious objections. But when forced to make a decision, only two have taken a stand as dramatic as Davis and refused to issue licenses.


Flood death toll rises in polygamous Utah town

HILDALE, Utah (AP) — Authorities say at least 12 people have died in flash flooding that swept away two vehicles in a polygamous community on the Utah-Arizona border.

Thousands of members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, live in the sister towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona. The church is led by Warren Jeffs, who is serving life in prison in Texas for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered brides.

Thirteen children and three women were in two vehicles that got smashed Monday by a wall of water and carried several hundred yards downstream. Three children survived.

Hildale Mayor Philip Barlow said, “We’re greatly humbled by this, but we realize that this is an act of God, and this is something we can’t control.”

The search effort has temporarily eased tensions between Jeffs followers and others who no longer belong to the sect but still live there.

It is believed that Jeffs still rules the FLDS through letters and phone calls from prison.


276-a-07-(Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox, at news conference)-“lost, loved ones”-Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox says the state is doing all it can to help the search effort. (15 Sep 2015)


275-a-10-(Hildale Mayor Philip Barlow, at news conference)-“best we can”-Hildale Mayor Philip Barlow says the flood deaths are tragic. (15 Sep 2015)



School district: Baptisms on football field violated policy

VILLA RICA, Ga. (AP) — Officials in Georgia say a group baptism before a high school football practice violated school district policy.

The Rev. Kevin Williams, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Villa Rica (VIL’-uh RIK’-uh), said 18 students and one coach were baptized after school, before a football practice last month.

Carroll County Assistant Superintendent Terry Jones said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Villa Rica High School failed to follow district policies on groups using school facilities.

Jones said the district’s investigation found that the high school principal had approved what he thought was a church-sponsored activity and that the principal was unaware that students were involved.

The baptisms drew criticism after the church posted video on the Internet of players being dunked into a tub of water.


Nun who vandalized uranium bunker resentenced to time served

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An 85-year-old nun and two fellow Catholic peace activists have been resentenced to time served for vandalizing a storage bunker that held much of the nation’s bomb-grade uranium.

Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed (bohr-CHEE’ OH-bed’) were originally convicted of felony sabotage for their 2012 actions in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where they cut through fences and sneaked into the most secure area of the Y-12 National Security Complex. Once there, they hung banners, prayed and hammered on the outside wall of the bunker to symbolize a Bible passage that refers to the end of all war: “They will beat their swords into ploughshares.”

Rice was sentenced to nearly three years in prison while Walli, 66, and Boertje-Obed, 60, were each sentenced to just over five years.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the sabotage charge in May, leaving a conviction on the lesser charge of injuring government property. When they were released from prison in June, the anti-nuclear activists had already served two years.


Hungary seals border, citing migrant threat to Christian Europe

HORGOS, Serbia (AP) — Hungary has sealed off its border with Serbia with massive coils of barbed wire and has started detaining migrants trying to use the country as a gateway to Western Europe, leaving thousands of frustrated asylum-seekers piled up on the Serbian side of the border.

Human rights activists condemned the move. But Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban defended the measures, saying he was acting to preserve Christian Europe, which he said had become threatened by the large numbers of Muslims streaming into the continent.

In a televised address just before the new laws took effect, Orban said: “If we look at the demographics, we can see that these people have more children than our communities who lead a traditional, Christian way of life.” He said, “Mathematics tells you that this will lead to a Europe where our way of life will end up in a minority, or at least face a very serious challenge.”


Nuns will get rent for convent in Katy Perry dispute

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A businesswoman will continue to pay $25,000 a month in rent plus maintenance expenses on a hilltop convent that Los Angeles’ Catholic archbishop wants to sell to pop singer Katy Perry.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruled Tuesday that entrepreneur Dana Hollister will make the payments to a small order of elderly nuns while lawsuits over the sale of the multimillion-dollar property are pending.

Hollister wants to use the convent for a hotel and restaurant project. She agreed to buy the property from the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but Chalfant voided the sale.

Additional court hearings will determine who controls the property’s sale. Two of the nuns who lead the order object to selling their former home to Perry.


Pope to give 4 speeches in English in US, rest in Spanish

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican says Pope Francis will deliver four out of his 18 speeches in the U.S. in English, using his native Spanish for the vast majority of his homilies, greetings and other speaking engagements in his three-city U.S. tour.

Francis has polished his English during recent trips to Asia, but the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Tuesday that the Argentine pope simply finds it easier to express himself in Spanish.

Francis will deliver an English speech at the White House and Congress and two greetings to U.N. staff and benefactors in Philadelphia.

Francis leaves Saturday for Cuba and arrives in the United States on Sept. 22 for a five-day visit.


As pope set to visit, Church has boosted social work in Cuba

HAVANA (AP) — When Pope Francis arrives in Havana on Saturday, he’ll find the church ministering to more Cubans than at any time since the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.

After decades of conflict with Cuba’s Communist-run government, the Roman Catholic Church has quietly established itself as practically the only independent institution with any widespread influence on the island. Expanding into areas once utterly dominated by the state, the church is providing tens of thousands of people with food, education, business training and even libraries stocked with foreign best-sellers.

Castro began easing prohibitions on faith in the 1990s, removing constitutionally enshrined atheism ahead of a visit by Pope John Paul II.


Clashes at Jerusalem holy site for 3rd straight day

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police have clashed with Palestinian protesters in a third straight day of unrest at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said police entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound early Tuesday to disperse protesters who had holed up inside overnight. She said the protesters threw rocks, fireworks, concrete blocks and a firebomb at the officers, adding that two Palestinians were arrested and five police officers were slightly injured.

The mosque stands on a hilltop known to Jews as the Temple Mount, site of the two biblical Jewish temples. Muslims revere it as the Noble Sanctuary, where they believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. Non-Muslim visitors are only allowed to enter the site at specific hours and are banned by police from praying there.

But there is a movement advocating the rights for Jews to pray at the hilltop. Some try and get around the ban on prayers by secretly mumbling the words.


Canada court allows women to wear veil for citizenship oath

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Canada’s government has lost an attempt to ban the practice of wearing face veils while swearing the oath of citizenship.

Zunera Ishaq is a 29-year-old woman with devout Muslim beliefs. She came to Canada from Pakistan in 2008 and refused to take part in a citizenship ceremony because she would have to remove her niqab.

A government ban on face coverings at such ceremonies was earlier found unlawful by the Federal Court.

Appeal Justice Mary Gleason said Tuesday the court saw no reason to interfere with earlier ruling. The three justices ruled quickly so Ishaq could obtain her citizenship before Canada’s Oct. 19 federal election.

The ban had sparked a bitter debate in Parliament when it was first announced.