Clergy weigh in on candidates, politics

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Southern Baptist leader says now might be a

good time for Rick Santorum to consider dropping out of the GOP

presidential race.

The Rev. Richard Land says Santorum has run a strong campaign,

but is young enough to run again someday.

Land appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation," which also featured

a pre-taped interview with New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Dolan

said Catholics may have reasons not to vote for Mitt Romney, but

the Republican candidate's Mormon faith "cannot be one of them."

On NBC's "Meet the Press," evangelist Anne Graham Lotz said

she could not vote for an atheist. But Lotz, the daughter of

evangelist Billy Graham, said she'll cast her presidential ballot

this year based on the candidates' policies rather than their



Christians celebrate Jesus' resurrection in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (AP) - Thousands of Christians have celebrated Easter

in Jerusalem, crowding into one of Christianity's holiest churches,

worshipping, singing and praying.

Catholics and Protestants took turns holding ceremonies in the

ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the site where many

Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and rose from the


Worship services also were held at the Garden Tomb, another

revered resurrection site.

Meanwhile, Christians belonging to Eastern Orthodox churches,

who celebrate Easter using a different calendar from their Catholic

and Protestant brethren, marked Palm Sunday.


Pope urges end to Syrian bloodshed

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict in his Easter Sunday message

has urged the Syrian regime to heed international calls to end

bloodshed and commit to dialogue.

After celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Square, Benedict voiced

hope that Easter's joy would comfort Christian communities

suffering because of their faith.

He denounced terrorist attacks in Nigeria that have hit

Christians and Muslims alike and prayed for peace in coup-struck


The pope struggled with hoarseness throughout the Mass before a

crowd of more than 100,000 faithful. Only hours earlier he had led

a three-hour nighttime Easter vigil inside St. Peter's Basilica.

Underlining the pope's concern for the Middle East, the Holy See

said Sunday the pope would make a three-day pilgrimage to Lebanon

in September, celebrating Mass in Beirut and encouraging bishops

and other churchmen in the Middle East.


Car bomb near Nigeria churches kills 38

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - Witnesses say a suicide car bomber

detonated his explosives on a busy road in northern Nigeria after

being blocked from attacking churches holding Easter services.

More than three dozen people were killed by the explosion in

Kaduna, which badly damaged the nearby All Nations Christian

Assembly Church and the ECWA Good News Church as worshippers were

taking communion during Easter services.

Witnesses said it appeared the explosive-laden car attempted to

go into the compound of the churches before it detonated, but was

blocked by barriers in the street and was turned away by a security

guard as police approached.

While no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack,

suspicion immediately fell on a radical Islamist sect blamed for

hundreds of killings in Nigeria this year alone.


Dolan: Jesus is alive today

NEW YORK (AP) - Cardinal Timothy Dolan says the good news of

Easter is that Jesus Christ is alive today.

New York's Roman Catholic archbishop celebrated Easter Mass for

several thousand worshippers at St. Patrick's Cathedral, but he

joked that the New York Jets' new quarterback, Tim Tebow, was

attracting many times that number at a service in Texas.

On a serious note, Dolan said Christians worship Jesus as a

living presence in their lives and not just a historical figure.

As president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dolan

has led the church's opposition to President Obama's requirement

that church-affiliated groups provide insurance that covers



Tebow draws big crowd to Texas Easter service

GEORGETOWN, Texas (AP) - New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow

says he welcomes the attention to his Christian faith.

Tebow told about 15,000 worshippers at an outdoor Easter church

service in Georgetown, Texas, that it's important for Christians to

be outspoken about their faith and for athletes to be positive role


Some at the "Easter on the Hill" morning service drove more

100 miles to hear Tebow speak. The service took on the feeling of a

rock concert with more than a 100 school buses shuttling people to

the megachurch campus.

The service was peppered with Christian rock songs and Tebow hit

the stage to cheers from those who could see him while others

watched on massive video screens.

Tebow sat for a 20-minute interview with the pastor, who joked,

"In Christianity, it's the Pope and Tebow right now. We didn't

have enough room to handle the Pope."


`Painter of Light' Thomas Kinkade dies in Calif.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Artist Thomas Kinkade, whose brushwork

paintings of idyllic landscapes, cottages and churches have been

big sellers for dealers across the United States, has died at the

age of 54.

A family spokesman says Kinkade died Friday at his home in the

San Francisco Bay Area of what appeared to be natural causes.

Kinkade called himself the "Painter of Light," and his

paintings were beloved by many but reviled by the art


He claimed to be the nation's most collected living artist, and

his paintings and spin-off products were said to fetch some $100

million a year in sales, and to be in 10 million homes in the

United States. Many contain images from Bible passages.

Kinkade, a self-described devout Christian, told the San Jose

Mercury News in 2002 that he was "a warrior for light," a

reference to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the



NC town writes New Testament in chalk on sidewalk

WHITEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - More than 1,000 residents of Whiteville,

N.C., have celebrated Easter by writing the New Testament in chalk

on sidewalks.

About 1,300 squares of concrete were labeled with Scripture

references so each person could write his or her part. Fifty area

churches joined the effort after members attended a community

sunrise service Sunday.

Organizers say the goal was to bring Christian denominations

together to mark the holiday.

Photographer Mark Gilchrist proposed the project as a way to get

residents outside and working together. He and a committee of

friends worked on the "Walk with Jesus" idea for months.


NY Catholic quits board over cardinal's gay stance

NEW YORK (AP) - The head of New York City's Roman Catholic

archdiocese faces a challenge to his stance on gay rights with the

resignation of a church official who says he's "had enough" of

the cardinal's attitude.

Joseph Amodeo told The Associated Press on Saturday that he quit

the junior board of Catholic Charities after the cardinal, Timothy

Dolan, failed to respond to a "call for help" for homeless young

people who are not heterosexual.

The conflict began when the head of an organization that helps

homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender homeless young

people wrote to ask Dolan to help the cause.

Dolan responded by saying he was adhering to church teachings.

That prompted Amodeo to quit.

Dolan leads one of the largest dioceses in the country. He also

is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Gay Mormon students come out in web video

UNDATED (AP) - Gay students from a strict Mormon college that

prohibits homosexual activity are coming out in a series of web

videos aimed at reassuring other young gay and lesbian students.

The video recently posted to YouTube by several Brigham Young

University students features young people discussing the conflict

they felt about being gay and Mormon.

In the video, several BYU students say they considered suicide

because they didn't think they could be Mormon and gay.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and BYU's honor

code prohibit "homosexual behavior."

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

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