Baptist leader faults parents for juvenile delinquency

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The New Orleans pastor who's expected to

become the first black president of the Southern Baptist Convention

says parents are the key to stopping rampant juvenile delinquency,

but the church can help.

The Rev. Fred Luter is unopposed as Southern Baptists prepare to

elect a new president when they meet in New Orleans June 19 and 20.

Luter says many of today's young people "have no regard for the

law, no regard for life and no respect."

The answer, he says, must start with parents raising their

children "in the fear and admonition of the Lord" instead of

letting them run wild in the streets committing crimes.

Luter says it's up to the church to come alongside parents and

give them the tools they need to bring up their children.


Reward offered for info on LA youth pastor killing

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A $50,000 reward has been offered to help

find the gunman who killed a 23-year-old youth pastor Monday night

in a suburb of Los Angeles.

Police say Oscar Duncan, a youth pastor at Greater Zion Church

in Compton, was standing in front of his mother's home with his

girlfriend after returning from a Bible study when a car pulled up

and some people inside made remarks to Duncan.

Police say when Duncan walked over to the car to see who was

inside, he was shot in the head.

Lt. John Radtke says the attackers may have had gang ties

although Duncan did not.


Man pleads guilty to 1981 killing of Iowa couple

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - One month after he stunned police by

confessing to the brutal 1981 killing of an elderly couple in Iowa,

a repentant Jack Pursel has pleaded guilty to two counts of

first-degree murder and has been sentenced to life in prison.

Pursel told the court in Waterloo, Iowa, that he's a born-again

Christian seeking forgiveness and mercy by taking responsibility

for the couple's torture and execution-style shooting deaths.

Two of the victims' grandchildren who addressed the court

declined to offer forgiveness. One of them said she wished Iowa had

the death penalty while the other said Pursel will end up "in the

fire pits of hell."


Organizers plan protests against birth control mandate Friday at


CHICAGO (AP) - Organizers of today's second Stand Up for

Religious Freedom Rally predict tens of thousands of Americans will

gather in 160 cities at noon local time to protest the Obama

administration's contraceptive coverage mandate.

The rally's national co-director, Eric Scheidler, says the first

rally in March drew more than 60,000 people in 145 cities.

Scheidler says that reflects widespread opposition to a

requirement that employers provide insurance that covers birth

control and sterilizations regardless of their religious or moral


The nation's Roman Catholic bishops have led much of the

opposition, but Scheidler says today's rallies also will feature

Protestants, Jews and Muslims who consider the mandate a violation

of their religious freedom.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - An organization whose members endorse

military chaplains says a commitment ceremony for two women should

not have been held last month at Fort Polk in Louisiana, a state

that does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions.

Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for

Religious Liberty, says the Fort Polk chaplain may have acted in

accordance with his church teachings, but should have considered

state law and legislation that has passed the U.S. House.

Congressman Todd Akin's bill prohibits military installations

from being used for "a marriage or marriage-like ceremony

involving anything other than the union of one man with one

woman." The Senate has not approved the legislation.

Fort Polk spokesman Scott Stearns said everyone at the base

chapel understood that the women's ceremony was not a marriage.


Denmark approves gay weddings in church

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Denmark's Parliament has approved a

law allowing same-sex couples to get married in formal church

weddings instead of the short blessing ceremonies that the state's

Lutheran Church currently offers.

Lawmakers voted 85-24 on Thursday to change Denmark's marriage


The law takes effect June 15 and will put Denmark on par with

countries such as Iceland and Sweden that allow full wedding

ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.

In 1989, Denmark became the first country to allow the

registration of gay partnerships. Since 1997 gay couples in Denmark

have been able to marry in special blessing ceremonies at the end

of regular church services.


Crystal Cathedral to move congregation

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (AP) - The congregation of the Crystal

Cathedral will relocate to a Roman Catholic church next summer.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange purchased the Crystal

Cathedral and its grounds for $57.7 million in bankruptcy


The agreement provided for the Crystal Cathedral congregation to

lease nearby St. Callistus Catholic Church in Garden Grove, Calif.,

with free rent through December 2013. The congregation plans to

move next June.

The diocese will announce a new name for the Crystal Cathedral

on Saturday and outline plans to transform it into a Catholic


The glass-paned church was founded by "Hour of Power"

televangelist Robert Schuller. It was sold to pay off more than $40

million in debt.


Judge backs Warren mayor in flap with atheists

WARREN, Mich. (AP) - A judge says a Detroit suburb did not

violate the law when it barred atheists from displaying an

anti-religion sign next to a Nativity scene at city hall.

Federal Judge Lawrence Zatkoff says the mayor of Warren, Mich.,

had authority to bar the poster last Christmas because he felt it

was antagonistic and would cause hostility. The judge says

officials were not excluding a religious group or a non-religious


The judge last week noted that Mayor Jim Fouts would have

prohibited a sign attacking Santa Claus.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis.,

wanted to post a sign that said religion is a "myth and

superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."


Faith-healing couple takes plea in son's death

OKANOGAN, Wash. (AP) - A Washington state couple has agreed to

accept a plea deal that spares them jail time but holds them

responsible for their teenage son's death after they failed to call

a doctor.

A jury acquitted JaLea and Greg Swezey of Carlton of

second-degree murder charges for failing to call a doctor or

ambulance before their son Zachery died of a ruptured appendix in

2009. However, they still faced manslaughter charges.

JaLea Swezey pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal

mistreatment and received a suspended sentence. Greg Swezey was

charged with second-degree criminal mistreatment and his case was

continued for two years.

The Swezeys are members of the Church of the First Born, which

believes in faith healing.

Under the deal, they agreed to contact Child Protective Services

if a child under their care is ill or injured.


No verdict this week in Philly priest-abuse case

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - There will be no verdict this week for two

Roman Catholic priests on trial for allegedly molesting a teen or

covering up abuse complaints at the Philadelphia archdiocese.

The jury ended a fifth day of deliberations Thursday and won't

return until Monday.

Monsignor William Lynn is the first U.S. church official charged

for his handling of abuse complaints. He's charged with conspiracy

and child endangerment.

The Rev. James Brennan is charged with sexually assaulting a

14-year-old boy in 1999, and with endangering children.

Five women and seven men, some with Catholic ties, are serving

on the jury. The trial has been underway since late March.


Texas inmate loses civil rights `vampire' suit

HOUSTON (AP) - A federal appeals court has rejected as frivolous

a civil rights lawsuit from a Texas prisoner who argued he was

being barred from practicing religious beliefs related to vampires.

Inmate Courtney Royal two years ago sued about a dozen Texas

prison administrators and officials at the Hughes Unit where he's

serving a life sentence for numerous offenses, including aggravated

assault, robbery and escape.

Royal's nine-page single-space typewritten lawsuit, rejected

Thursday by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of

Appeals, said he wanted to practice "West African spiritualism and

18th Century Catholicism" marked by prayer to Africans

reincarnated by blood. He argued it was no different from

"unproven" Christian beliefs.

In the filing, Royal described himself as "Vampsh Black Sheep

League of Doom Gardamun Family Circle Master Vampire High Priest."


Chinese police raid religious school; 12 kids hurt

BEIJING (AP) - State media report that staff at a religious

school in heavily Muslim western China set off explosives to fend

off a police raid and that 12 children were burned. An overseas

rights group, however, blamed tear gas used by paramilitary forces

for the injuries.

The Tianshan news portal for the Xinjiang (shihn-jahng) region

said 12 children were hospitalized after the raid, but didn't say

how badly they were hurt. Three police and two of the three staff

at the school in Hotan city also were injured, it said.

But a spokesman for the German-based World Uyghur (WEE'-gur)

Congress said the school was teaching the Quran and that

paramilitary officers used tear gas on the children.

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

AP-NY-06-08-12 0332EDT