Christian group lists the world's worst persecutors
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - North Korea continues to be the worst
country in the world to be a Christian, according to the new World
Watch List released by Open Doors USA.
It ranks North Korea as the world's worst persecutor of
Christians for the 10th year in a row, followed by five Muslim
nations -- Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Iran and Maldives.
The president of Open Doors USA, the Rev. Carl Moeller
(MUL'-ur), notes that Americans have died to defend an Afghan
regime that ranks as the world's second worst persecutor of
Christians, while third-ranked Saudi Arabia remains a U.S. ally.
Moeller says he's saddened that the Obama administration appears
to place a higher priority on promoting gay rights around the world
than defending Christians' religious rights.
Christian youth conference gives $100K to fight human
ATLANTA (AP) - The 45,000 Christian students attending this
week's Passion 2012 conference have given $100,000 to the host city
of Atlanta to fight child exploitation and sex trafficking.
The Rev. Louie Giglio presented the donation
Wednesday to Mayor Kasim Reed, who said, "The Lord is being lifted
up in the Georgia Dome, and Pastor Louie and the Passion movement
is really taking hold in the city of Atlanta."
Reed said the money would be used to help Atlanta police combat
He and Giglio were joined onstage by Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey
Cagle, who saluted the students as fellow believers. Cagle said,
"For all of us, it's about knowing Christ and not only having a
deep relationship with him but making him known to others."
Passion 2012 started Monday and wraps up this afternoon.
Bachmann quits race, says she'll fight for issues
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Michele Bachmann says her failed quest
for the GOP presidential nomination hasn't made her lose faith.
The Minnesota congresswoman ended her campaign Wednesday after
placing sixth in the Iowa caucuses. But she said, "My faith in the
Lord God Almighty, this country and our republic is unshakeable."
She said that's because America's principles are based on the
beliefs of the nation's founders, which she maintains "were rooted
in the immutable truths of the holy Scripture, the Bible."
Bachmann added that she's confident God can still use her to
promote the causes she emphasized on the campaign trail. She told
reporters, "I look forward to the next chapter in God's plan."
Family dogs celebrated with Jewish coming of age ceremonies
STANHOPE, N.J. (AP) - Some Jewish pet owners are holding "Bark
Mitzvahs" when their dogs come of age.
It's one of the latest crazes in dog-lover circles and part of a
booming multi-million dollar industry that includes catered party
packages costing almost $100.
The Bar Mitzvah is an ancient Jewish religious ceremony. It
marks the coming of age of Jewish boys and recognizes them as
adults, responsible for their moral and religious duties.
But Lee Day, who performs Bark Mitzvahs in New Jersey, says she
believes "animals have a right to have a party and a religion."
Connecticut Rabbi Daniel Satlow disagrees, calling the
ceremonies "kind of insulting" to a sacred Jewish tradition.
LA auxiliary bishop resigns, admits fathering kids
LOS ANGELES (AP) - An auxiliary bishop for the Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Los Angeles has resigned after admitting that he
fathered two children who are now teenagers.
Pope Benedict on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Bishop
Gabino Zavala. He was in charge of the San Gabriel Region in the
nation's most populous archdiocese.
In a letter to the faithful, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez
says Zavala told him in December that he had two children who live
with their mother in a different state. Gomez says the archdiocese
has offered to help with the children's college costs.
Archdiocesan spokesman Tod Tamberg says it appears Zavala had a
consensual affair with an adult but he has no other details.
The Vatican will choose a replacement.
Boston cardinal marks 10th anniversary of crisis
BOSTON (AP) - Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley is marking the 10th
anniversary of the start of the clergy sex abuse crisis with
reflections on an event he says "forever changed" the Roman
Catholic church worldwide.
O'Malley released a letter and his reflections on Wednesday.
That's two days before the anniversary of a 2002 Boston Globe
story that sparked a wave of revelations about dozens of pedophile
priests and the church leaders who transferred them between
parishes while hiding their crimes.
O'Malley said Wednesday that while the church can never cease to
"beg forgiveness" from those who were harmed, it has since
enacted reforms that protect children.
And he asked Catholics who have left the church to return to
make it stronger and safer for all people.
Wash. Gov. Gregoire supports gay marriage bill
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Chris Gregoire (GREG'-wahr) says she
now supports legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington state,
although it's been a personal battle for her because she's
Gregoire, a Democrat, says she now believes that "religions can
decide what they want to do, but it's not OK for the state to
A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle
responded that "the position of the Catholic Church is clear,"
and the Legislature should "uphold the current legal definition of
marriage as between a man and a woman."
The state's first domestic partnership law, which the
Legislature passed in 2007, provided hospital visitation rights,
the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations, and
inheritance rights when there is no will.
In 2009, the Legislature passed, and voters upheld, what was
known as the "everything-but-marriage" bill, expanding those
RI religious leaders urge lawmakers to help poor
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island religious leaders are
pressing state lawmakers to remember homeless and poor residents as
they begin their work for the year.
The Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition held a vigil Wednesday at
the Statehouse to urge lawmakers to "govern with wisdom and
compassion." The event brought together leaders from the
Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu faiths.
The Rev. Donald Anderson says the vigil was intended not to
criticize lawmakers but to encourage them to vote with the state's
most vulnerable citizens in mind.
Rhode Island's unemployment rate is among the highest in the
nation, at 10.5 percent.
Federal census figures show some 12 percent of the state's
residents live in poverty.
ISLAMIC CENTER-FIRE ATTACK
Source: Toilet denial, then NY Islam center attack
NEW YORK (AP) - A law enforcement official says a man hurled
firebombs at an Islamic cultural center in part because he wasn't
allowed to use its bathrooms and targeted four other New York-area
sites on New Year's Day over personal grievances.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on
condition of anonymity because the case is still being
investigated. He says the man made anti-Muslim statements and could
be charged with a hate crime in the Islamic center attack.
Police say the man was taken into custody Tuesday after he was
tracked through a stolen car believed to be at the scene of at
least two of the attacks Sunday evening on a convenience store,
three homes and the cultural center.
Police say he made statements implicating himself in the
attacks, which didn't injure anyone.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)