Christian conservative says evangelicals will likely move toward

Mitt Romney

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Christian conservative leader believes

evangelical voters will continue their shift toward GOP White House

hopeful Mitt Romney now that Rick Santorum has suspended his


Dr. Richard Land, director of the Ethics and Religious Liberty

Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, says he's saddened

by Santorum's decision, but thinks the former Pennsylvania senator

made the best decision for the future.

Land predicts evangelical voters will continue to move toward

Romney unless the former Massachusetts governor does something

"counterproductive." Land says Romney should continue to stress

key issues including marriage, support for Israel and opposition to


He says he believes Mormonism will become an issue because the

media, which he says favor Obama, "will bring it up."

Land says the president has the support of about one-third of

evangelicals but "has the unique ability to unite people around

his opponent."


Santorum appears at Lancaster Bible College

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) - Rick Santorum hasn't revealed much about

his future, other than saying that he'd like to get some sleep.

Santorum spoke last night at an event at Pennsylvania's

Lancaster Bible College, hours after he'd announced he was

suspending his campaign for president. He made the announcement

earlier in Gettysburg, saying it had come after prayerful


The event was billed as a "conversation on faith, family and

American values" with James Dobson, the founder of the evangelical

Christian group Focus on the Family. Dobson now hosts the Family

Talk broadcast.

Dobson said he's been a longtime supporter of Santorum because

of values. Dobson interviewed the former Pennsylvania senator about

his campaign and other memorable times in his public and personal



Abuse scandal continues to take toll on US church

NEW YORK (AP) - Roman Catholic dioceses and religious orders

received nearly 600 credible clergy sex abuse claims last year. All

but a few of the allegations involve wrongdoing from decades ago

that are only being reported now.

The findings are part of an annual child safety report

commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Auditors

check compliance with the discipline plan bishops adopted in 2002

at the height of the abuse scandal.

Church officials say they paid more than $144 million in

settlements and related costs last year, a slight drop from 2010.

Another $33 million was spent on background checks and other child

protection measures.

Auditors say improvements are needed in how dioceses monitor

accused priests. The auditors also warn about complacency after a

decade of intense scandal. Victims' advocate David Clohessy of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, says

the report is not a true audit. Clohessy says it's "a glorified

self-survey, frankly, by the same men who have caused and continue

to cause the abuse and cover-up crisis."


Appeals court to consider $66M Tony Alamo judgment

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) - A federal appeals court has agreed to

consider a $66 million civil judgment that a jury awarded to two

men who say they were abused as children growing up in evangelist

Tony Alamo's ministry.

The Texarkana Gazette reports that the oral arguments will

likely be heard this summer by a federal appeals court in St.

Louis. Alamo is appealing the $66 million in damages that a jury

awarded to the plaintiffs (Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna). The

two were raised in the Alamo's ministry and a jury agreed that

they'd suffered physical abuse and were deprived of an education.

Alamo is currently serving a 175-year federal prison sentence.

He was convicted in July 2009 of bringing young girls across state

lines for sex.


Convicted US priest remained clergyman for years

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Jurors in a landmark church sex-abuse trial

in Philadelphia have been presented with documents outlining the

troubled clerical career of a priest who was convicted of child

pornography charges yet remained in ministry for years despite

similar and repeated complaints.

Prosecutors presented years of correspondence from mental health

facilities, therapists and church officials regarding Edward

DePaoli when he was a priest. The documents, kept in the

archdiocese's secret archives, outlined how DePaoli was convicted

in federal court of child pornography charges in 1986. Despite the

conviction, he went through psychological treatment, rounds of

therapy, and a half dozen church assignments for two decades before

he was removed from the priesthood in 2005.

DePaoli is not a defendant in the trial, but prosecutors are

trying to make their case against Monsignor William Lynn, who was

the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary of clergy from 1992 to

2004 and entrusted with investigating complaints against priests.

Lynn is the first Roman Catholic official in the U.S. charged with

endangering children for allegedly transferring priests suspected

of molestation.


Court hears case of fired Fla. teacher

ATLANTA (AP) - A federal appeals court in Atlanta has heard

testimony in the trial of a lawsuit filed by a fourth-grade teacher

fired by the principal of a Florida Christian school after she

disclosed that she was pregnant before she got married.

A lawyer argued that Jaretta Hamilton is the victim of

discrimination, and that the principal at Southland Christian

School in St. Cloud fired her because she was pregnant and her

maternity leave was going to be inconvenient for the school.

A lawyer for the school told a three-judge panel that the school

has a right to fire someone who violates its moral code. The

attorney also raised a recent Supreme Court decision that

acknowledged the existence of an exception to anti-discrimination

laws for churches.

Hamilton was teaching at the nondenominational school in 2009,

when she married. About two months later, she and her husband met

with the principal to request maternity leave. During the meeting,

Hamilton said the baby was conceived before the two were married.

Hamilton was fired a short time later.


Court: Ban on abortion protest unconstitutional

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled that a

state court order that barred abortion protesters from appearing at

a town square in the city of Jackson last year violated the

protesters' constitutional rights.

In a lengthy 3-2 decision, the state Supreme Court ruled the

temporary restraining order violated the First Amendment rights of

protesters with the group Operation Save America. Dozens of

Operation Save America members descended on Jackson last May with

graphic signs of aborted fetuses that they showed around town.

City officials objected, saying the signs were inappropriate

because the material would have been seen by hundreds of Boy Scouts

attending a local event called Elkfest.


Trial begins in Arkansas cross-beating death

WYNNE, Ark. (AP) - The trial for the man charged with beating an

80-year-old woman to death with a brass cross inside a northeast

Arkansas church has opened with both prosecutors and defense

attorneys telling the jury that there's no doubt the defendant is

the killer.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Rene Bourassa Jr.

The defense told the jury that the real question is why the killing


Bourassa is charged with capital murder in the 2010 death of

Lillian Wilson, who was found beaten inside a church in Hamlin.


Clergy, activists hold rally at Detroit church over Trayvon

Martin killing, teacher's firing

DETROIT (AP) - Dozens gathered at a Detroit church last night to

rally against the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and

the firing of a Michigan teacher whose students wanted to organize

a fundraiser for Martin's family.

Martin was unarmed and wearing a hoodie when he was shot to

death Feb. 26 by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla.

Brooke Harris says she's confused by her March dismissal from

Pontiac Academy for Excellence Middle School. The English teacher

says she was supporting some students who planned a

wear-a-hoodie-to-school day in Martin's memory.

Clergy, community activists and others gathered at King Solomon

Missionary Baptist to voice their displeasure over the

17-year-old's death as well as Harris' dismissal. Several in

attendance vowed to work toward Harris' reinstatement.


Christian college holds memorial for 7 killed in last week's

shooting rampage

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - About 100 people wept and consoled each

other yesterday while gathering in a steady downpour to mourn the

seven people killed last week at a tiny Christian college in

Oakland, Calif., where a gunman opened fire in classrooms.

Officials from Oikos University and local leaders offered

condolences on the school steps decorated with flowers. Photos of

the six students and school secretary who were slain lined the

entrance, and sympathy cards were tacked to the boarded-up main


The school's founder and president told mourners that people

connected to the school have been encouraged by an outpouring of

support from around the world since the April 2 incident.

The school focuses on serving Korean immigrants but is attended

by students from around the world. Victims of the shooting came

from a number of countries, including Korea, Nepal, Nigeria and the


A former student has been charged with seven counts of murder

and three counts of attempted murder.


Investigators looking into pipe bomb left at Mormon church in

northern Arkansas

HARRISON, Ark. (AP) - An investigation is under way in

northeastern Ark., into an apparent pipe bomb that was found after

Easter services in the parking lot of a Mormon church near


A sheriff says a caller reporting finding the device at the

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's said to have

contained a flammable powder.

The FBI is helping with the investigation.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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