Preacher Billy Graham admitted to NC hospital

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - A spokesman for the Rev. Billy Graham

says the evangelist has been taken to a hospital near his home in

North Carolina for treatment of his lungs.

Spokesman Larry Ross says Graham was admitted Wednesday to

Mission Hospital in Asheville with congestion, a cough and slight


A pulmonologist at the hospital said in a news release that

Graham is being tested for possible pneumonia. The release said

Graham was alert, smiling and waving to staff.

The 93-year-old served as an adviser to presidents and toured

the world for his famous crusades. He now spends much of his time

at home near Asheville and occasionally meets with Christian

leaders and old friends.

He was last hospitalized in May for five days with pneumonia.


Pat Robertson: Cain should end campaign

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson

says Herman Cain should end his GOP presidential campaign.

On Wednesday's broadcast of CBN News' "The 700 Club,"

Robertson said women's allegations of sexual misconduct and a

longtime affair are too much for Cain's candidacy to overcome.

Robertson said Cain can't win the nomination, so "it's time to

get out."

Suggesting that Cain's presidential aptitude already was

suspect, Robertson said Cain was "good at making pizzas," but

"was in over his head" when it came to foreign policy.

The 81-year-old Robertson unsuccessfully sought the Republican

presidential nomination in 1988.


Police: Thieves steal gifts from under church tree

ANTIOCH, Ill. (AP) - Police say thieves have stolen up to $1,000

worth of presents for needy families from a church in the northern

Illinois village of Antioch.

Police said Wednesday that the gifts were taken from St.

Stephen's Lutheran Church.

Pastor Ellen Arthur says someone entered the church and took

dozens of presents from under a Christmas tree. Authorities think

the theft happened sometime Monday afternoon. Sixteen families were

to receive gifts this year from the Open Arms Mission's

adopt-a-family program.

The gifts included toys, clothing and coats. The church has

until Dec. 9 to finish collecting donations for the program.

Arthur says the church would like to have the gifts returned.


Megachurch pastor announces reality show

HOUSTON (AP) - The pastor of America's largest congregation

could soon be starring in his own reality TV show.

The Rev. Joel Osteen says he's signed an agreement to work with

producer Mark Burnett to develop a reality show that features him

taking mission trips with members of Houston's Lakewood Church. The

program would also feature Osteen's wife, Victoria.

Burnett is executive producer of the CBS show "Survivor." He

and his wife, actress Roma Downey, have attended Lakewood Church

and become friends with the Osteens.

Joel Osteen told KRIV-TV that a typical show would feature him

and several hundred church members boarding a plane and flying

somewhere to help people in need.

Lakewood Church attracts more than 40,000 worshippers to its

weekly services in a former sports arena.


Small Ky. church votes against interracial couples

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A tiny all-white church in rural Kentucky

has voted to ban interracial couples from joining its flock,

pitting members against each other in an argument over race.

Members at the Gulnare (guhl-NEHR') Free Will Baptist Church in

Pike County voted Sunday on the resolution, which says the church

"does not condone interracial marriage."

Member Melvin Thompson crafted it, but says he is not racist. He

calls it an "internal affair" of the church.

Church secretary Dean Harville disagrees. He says it came after

his daughter's African boyfriend sang for the congregation. The 9-6

vote was held after Sunday's service.

Free Will Baptist churches are autonomous, but the leader of

their national association says there are interracial couples at

many churches and there is no policy against it.


Santa Fe Catholic archbishop: Archdiocese again will oppose any

driver's license repeal effort

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A Roman Catholic archbishop says he'll

oppose any further attempt by Gov. Susana Martinez to repeal a New

Mexico law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan says the church does not

condone people breaking the law, but state residents should welcome

those who are already here.

Sheehan believes the archdiocese's position helped sway public

opinion in favor of keeping the law. Martinez has tried twice to

repeal it and has vowed to try again during the next session.

New Mexico is one of only three U.S. states to issue driver's

licenses to people in the country illegally.


Cleric: American jailed in Cuba in good spirits

HAVANA (AP) - A prominent U.S. religious leader has visited an

American man jailed in Havana for bringing restricted

communications equipment to Cuba.

The Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National

Council of Churches, says Alan Gross of Maryland is in good spirits

and they had a good conversation.

Kinnamon says the U.S. church group is concerned for the

62-year-old Gross's health and hopes he may be freed on

humanitarian grounds. But he has no knowledge of when or whether

that may happen.

Gross was arrested Dec. 4, 2009, while working as a

subcontractor on a democracy-building project funded by Washington.


Pope seeks end to death penalty

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict says he supports political

actions around the world aimed at eliminating the death penalty,

reflecting his stance as an opponent of capital punishment.

He made the comments during his weekly public audience to

participants at a meeting on the theme "No Justice without Life."

Benedict, like his predecessor Pope John Paul II, has appealed

for commutation in death penalty cases, many in the United States.

In the late 1990s, the Roman Catholic church hardened its

opposition to the death penalty in a revised statement of its

teaching. It said the death penalty is permissible only in the

narrowest of circumstances, and only when there is no other way to

protect the public.


Excommunicated bishop turns up at China ordination

BEIJING (AP) - An excommunicated bishop's participation in an

ordination ceremony in China will likely worsen relations between

the government-controlled Catholic church and the Vatican.

Wednesday's ordination of Peter Luo Xuegang as coadjutor bishop

of Yibin diocese had the Vatican's blessing, but Pope Benedict's

spokesman had said he hoped "no illegitimate bishop" would


But a man at China's Catholic Patriotic Association says

excommunicated bishop Paul Lei Shiyin took part in the ceremony. He

was ordained in June against Pope Benedict's wishes - one of three

recent cases in which China unilaterally ordained bishops.

The Vatican insists that only the pope has the right to choose

bishops, while China sees this as interference in its internal



NYC's Jewish Museum, author Sendak create exhibit

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City's Jewish Museum has invited author

Maurice Sendak to rummage through its collection and choose

menorahs for a Hanukkah exhibit.

The exhibit opens Friday and features 33 menorahs chosen by

Sendak. The menorahs were created from the 18th to the 20th


Also included are original drawings from Sendak's books and

audio of his conversations with curators.

Sendak is the author of children's books including "Where the

Wild Things Are."

The 83-year-old Sendak says he chose severe-looking menorahs

because their simplicity evoke the Holocaust. He was born in

Brooklyn to Jewish immigrant parents, and much of his extended

family died in the Holocaust.


Claims against NY Hasidic village dismissed

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed all

claims raised by dissidents who said their Hasidic Jewish village

was violating religious freedom and should be dissolved.

The plaintiffs, who follow a different Hasidic leader, had

claimed that the majority congregation took over the government of

Kiryas Joel, 40 miles north of New York City. They said leaders

selectively enforced tax, zoning, election and other laws to

oppress them.

In an opinion filed Wednesday in Manhattan, Judge Jed Rakoff

dismissed several of the claims on the grounds they were settled in

earlier cases. He dismissed others because the people allegedly

harmed were not among the plaintiffs. The judge also found that the

dissidents' complaint "does not adequately allege that the

defendants' actions were motivated by religious differences."

The plaintiffs' lawyer, Michael Sussman, said he would appeal

the ruling.


German court: No student right to pray in school

BERLIN (AP) - Germany's top administrative court has ruled that

students don't have the right to pray in school if a conflict is


The court upheld a decision by a lower court rejecting a Muslim

student's demand for a private prayer room at his Berlin high


The Federal Administrative Court said Wednesday that while the

decision did not prohibit students in general from praying during

breaks, praying should be banned if the religious act can cause

religious conflicts, which it said was the case at the Berlin


The court also said the creation of a separate prayer room would

go beyond the capacities of the Berlin school.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-12-01-11 0334EST